One of the more interesting position battles for the Indianapolis Colts this offseason is the right tackle position, where there are a number of questions swirling about Gosder Cherilus, who would figure to be the team's starter. Cherilus, however, isn't expected to participate in OTAs due to injury and the sense that we've gotten all offseason from the Colts gives plenty of reason for concern.
The questions about Cherilus make the position hard to project for the 2015 season, as we can't draw too much from what is going on in OTAs until we know if Cherilus will be back, and if so how effective he will be. With that said, however, there's one interesting tidbit that could give us more insight than anything into the Colts' thoughts at the position, and it comes from the Indianapolis Star's Stephen Holder. Sharing his thoughts from Wednesday's OTA session, he notes that, in the two practices that the media has been able to watch, Jack Mewhort has been working "exclusively at right tackle."
Mewhort started 13 regular season games and all three postseason games at left guard last year, and he played well enough to make many think that it would be Anthony Castonzo and Jack Mewhort holding down the left side of the line for the foreseeable future. Perhaps that was what the Colts were planning as well, but Mewhort brings the versatility to bring tackle as well. He started at right tackle in week seventeen last year for the Colts, and while playing collegiately at Ohio State he started 26 games at left tackle in his career, also playing elsewhere along the line. Even when drafted, many wondered whether Mewhort would end up as the team's eventual right tackle, but after his success at left guard last year that talk seemed to quiet down significantly.
It's probably time to start that up again, however. We must note that Mewhort has been limited so far in OTAs by an injury, and that Gosder Cherilus isn't participating, and also that these are observations based on just two of the Colts' six OTA sessions so far - but if Mewhort has been working "exclusively" at right tackle in those two sessions, it gives a pretty good sense of what the team's thoughts might be - and that Mewhort might be their right tackle in 2015.
Of course, there's nothing official yet. With Mewhort also limited, head coach Chuck Pagano said that Joe Reitz has been getting "the lion's share" of reps at right tackle in OTAs, and he also noted that Ulrick John "has played out there some" and that Denzelle Good "has been getting a lot of reps out there," too. He said that, "until we know where ‘Gos' is at and those other guys that are on the mend right now and we get Mewhort back full time, I'm just glad we've got some other guys that can fill in right now."
Make no mistake about it, however: Pagano likes Mewhort's versatility, and he feels confident that the Colts will be ok at right tackle. "Versatility is hard to find," the head coach told the media on Wednesday. "So obviously [Mewhort] playing a bunch of spots and playing everywhere along the line is definitely the more you can do. I think everybody is well aware of that spot and us trying to fill that hole right now. I'm fully confident that we've got the guys in this building right now that we're going to be fine there."
The whole position battle really hinges on the health of Gosder Cherilus, but there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding that situation. Chuck Pagano mentioned Jack Mewhort, Joe Reitz, Ulrick John, and Denzelle Good as guys they're considering there at the moment, but I think Stephen Holder's observation gives us quite a bit of insight into the thinking. Granted, Mewhort has been limited, but if he has been working solely at right tackle and not at left guard, that doesn't sound to me like the team just casually trying things out at the position. Rather, it sounds to me like the Colts might really be considering moving Mewhort to right tackle as the starter, then leaving the left guard position open. The team does appear to have more depth at guard than they do at tackle, and ESPN's Mike Wells notes that Lance Louis and Hugh Thornton have been working at the left guard spot in OTAs.
The bottom line is that it's way too early to determine anything about what the starting offensive line will be, particularly because we don't yet know the status of Gosder Cherilus. But it sounds as if moving Jack Mewhort to right tackle is a serious possibility and one that we will continue to monitor as we get closer to the 2015 season.