The Indianapolis Colts lost a number of players to injury in 2014, and some of them were significant players. The hope is that those injured players will return in 2015, but the Colts aren't setting a timetable for any of their returns, rather just waiting and hoping that everything progresses well.
Team owner Jim Irsay spoke with the media this week at the owner's meetings and mentioned that star outside linebacker Robert Mathis might not return until November as he still is recovering from his torn Achilles. Understand, this is the worst-case scenario, but either way it seems like Mathis might not be back right away. General manager Ryan Grigson spoke to the media on Tuesday at the annual owner's meetings and he offered an update on some of the other injured players (while confirming that November is the worst-case scenario for Mathis).
Right tackle Gosder Cherilus was placed on injured reserve right before the playoffs began after a regular season that was plagued by poor play and injuries. He has had both groin and knee surgeries, and the latter one is the one that he is still recovering from. "'Gos' is how he's wired. He's a tough, tough guy, almost to a detriment I think sometimes," Grigson said, per ESPN's Mike Wells. "Once we get him out there doing field work, watch and see how he looks, see how he's come along in that dialogue because you know, tackles are hard to find. We really like Gos, but we've got to see how he comes back."
That's an interesting last statement from Grigson, as we know that, when healthy, Cherilus can be a solid right tackle. That wasn't the case in 2014, but the hope all along has been that he'll return healthy this year and return to that solid level of play on the right side of the line. The plan is that he'll be starting at right tackle and that shouldn't change, but Grigson's statement conveys some sort of hesitation as to how well Cherilus can play upon his return. The team re-signed Joe Reitz this offseason, who started all three playoff games at right tackle for the Colts, and he could provide some insurance in case Cherilus struggles or doesn't recover in time for the start of the season.
Guard Donald Thomas re-tore his quad in training camp and missed the entire season, one year after playing in just over one game for the Colts before being lost for the year. The hope is that he will come back as well and compete, but he's likely not going to be guaranteed a roster spot. In the meantime, Thomas is still recovering from his injury. "It's not for lack of effort or attitude. He's a great pro," Grigson said. "He's not ready yet. Those decisions and where he's at will be defined by his actual progress physically. This is a hard game. He's got to be confident that he can play on that thing again and make sure that he'll be able to stay healthy."
While Thomas entered each of the past two training camps as a projected starting guard, that won't be the case this summer. Instead, newly-signed lineman Todd Herremans projects to take the spot at right guard, while Jack Mewhort will remain at left guard. Instead of entering as a starter, Thomas will enter camp fighting for a roster spot. That's the unfortunate reality for a promising player whose career has been derailed by two season-ending injuries in back-to-back years for the Colts.
While those players are perhaps the most notable injured players currently rehabbing for the Colts, they have several others. Running back Vick Ballard, who tore his Achilles in training camp last year and his ACL in 2013, is on schedule in his recovery, head coach Chuck Pagano said. And then newly-signed inside linebacker Nate Irving is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered last year.
Ultimately, here's what all of this boils down to: there is no timetable that the Colts are setting (at least publicly) for these players and there seems to be a fair and healthy level of caution to count on them to take on a big role in 2015, which is probably smart. The hope is certainly that guys like Robert Mathis, Gosder Cherilus, Donald Thomas, and Vick Ballard all recover well and can help out the team next year, but the Colts are currently just waiting and hoping that is the case. For now, there's no timetable, but the players are still rehabbing to get back on the field.