The Indianapolis Colts are reporting to training camp today, and as quarterback Andrew Luck said, it feels "a bit like Christmas" because of all the excitement in the air.
A number of players and coaches are meeting with the media as they arrive, and that includes offensive line coach Joe Gilbert. The offensive line brings some of the biggest questions and biggest position battles as we enter camp, and we spent a good portion of our podcast last night talking about those battles along the line. Gilbert today offered a little bit into the thinking at the competition with a few notable details: namely, that Joe Reitz will continue to work at tackle and that Todd Herremans will indeed be at right guard while a group of players competes at left guard.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">OL coach Joe Gilbert: Joe Reitz will work at tackle. (Sounds like he'll be depth behind Mewhort and Castonzo); Herremans at RG, group at LG</p>— Steve Andress (@ColtsReporter) <a href="https://twitter.com/ColtsReporter/status/627480399514607617">August 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
We already knew that Herremans, who the Colts signed this offseason after he was released by the Eagles, would be the overwhelming favorite to start at right guard, and that's where he played all offseason as well. It is fully expected that he'll be starting there. Furthermore, we also knew that it would be a competition at left guard during training camp, as in the offseason workouts they split time between Hugh Thornton and Lance Louis and now, with Jack Mewhort moving to right tackle for sure, they might add more players into the mix as well. We'll certainly be keeping an eye on that competition as camp goes on.
But perhaps the most significant nugget of information from Gilbert was that Joe Reitz will continue to work at tackle. He started four games at right tackle last year (including the three playoff games) and started three games at guard (one at left guard and two at right guard), and he had an impressive 2014 season. What this means for the Colts is that Reitz will likely continue to serve as the backup for both tackles - Jack Mewhort on the right side of the line and Anthony Castonzo on the left side. Reitz is certainly nice insurance there, and it helps you feel a bit better about the tackle situation with Reitz there for depth. But the question marks along the offensive line aren't at tackle - in fact, arguably their three best linemen will now be working at tackle, with Castonzo, Mewhort, and Reitz.
What many, including myself, think the Colts should do, however, is give Joe Reitz a shot at left guard. Throw him into the competition there with Thornton, Louis, and others and let him compete. I think that Reitz would end up being the best option there and could help improve the offensive line as a whole. Instead, it sounds as if the Colts currently don't have plans to do that but are instead hoping to keep Reitz as a backup. He's certainly a great backup option to have, as he provides the versatility to play almost anywhere along the line and does well when he is inserted into the game, normally in the case of injury. But, at least right now, it sounds as if that will be the extent of Reitz's playing time this year, as the team is keeping him at tackle to provide depth rather than giving him a shot at the left guard competition.
Lastly, as for the center position (which is the other position along the line that will have a competition in training camp), Gilbert didn't offer much other than that there will be a straight competition between Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison at the spot.
Regardless of who ends up starting at left guard and at center, it is clear that both spots will be among the biggest and most important training camp battles for the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.