The Indianapolis Colts are getting ready to take on the Tennessee Titans this afternoon in a very important game, as the team hopes to avoid an 0-3 start and hopes to get off on a good note in division play. Indy will be without a few key players due to injury, however, and are making a change to their offensive line. Let's take a look at the inactives for today's game:
Darius Butler, CB (hip)
Greg Toler, CB (neck)
Trent Cole, OLB (knee)
Lance Louis, OL (shoulder)
T.Y. McGill, DL
Denzelle Good, OL
Dwayne Allen, TE (ankle)
The big news is that Lance Louis is inactive, meaning that there will be a different starting offensive line for the first (and probably not the last) time this year. In Louis' place at left guard will be Hugh Thornton, who will be making his first start of the year. Louis missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday with a shoulder injury, but he was a full participant in Friday's practice and was probable for the game. It could be that the injury, along with the fact that Louis has played very poorly to start this season, made the Colts think this was an ideal time to give Thornton another chance.
Thornton has started 20 games over the past few seasons since being drafted by the Colts in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He has done some good things but has struggled overall in his time with the NFL, and it's clear that time is running out for him to show that he can be the team's full-time starting guard. That's the hope, but he needs to show it sometime soon. Perhaps, that might come today as he's getting a shot to start at left guard.
UPDATE: Not so fast, I guess. Contrary to what was previously widely believed, it might not be Hugh Thornton at left guard... he might be at right guard instead. That's because, according to Colts.com's Kevin Bowen, the first-team offensive line in warmups was Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Jack Mewhort at left guard, Khaled Holmes at center, Hugh Thornton at right guard, and Joe Reitz at right tackle. That would be a huge change because it would be switching around three of the five offensive line spots. It would mean that Todd Herremans has been benched in favor of Hugh Thornton, that Jack Mewhort has been moved back to left guard, and that Joe Reitz is in the lineup. I like the part about getting Reitz in there, but I think it might be best to leave Mewhort at right tackle and start Reitz at guard. But I like getting Reitz involved. The benching of Herremans would really stun me, however, as even though he has struggled mightily, I didn't think the Colts would make that move. We'll have to wait until game time, of course, but this would be a big change.
Also of note is that Dwayne Allen, Greg Toler, Darius Butler, and Trent Cole are all out, which was known before today but is still notable. That's quite a group that will miss today's game and is filled with some key players, so others will need to step up to fill in. With Cole out, Jonathan Newsome will get the start at outside linebacker, but we can also expect to see a bit more of Robert Mathis than we saw on Monday.