One of the biggest position battles that is going on during training camp for the Indianapolis Colts is at right guard, as the team attempts to figure out who their best option is at the position.
Hugh Thornton, Denzelle Good, and Jonotthan Harrison have all received some first team reps in practice so far in camp, and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on Sunday called the competition “wide open.”
“I see it as wide open right now,” Chud said. “Hugh’s getting some reps in there, obviously Denzelle is, Joe Haeg’s getting some work, I mean we’re rolling some different guys through, and again, it’s not just what they’re doing at right guard, it might be what they’re doing at other positions too as well, that’s part of the assessment in saying, ‘well, this is a guy that we need to get in that spot.’”
Hugh Thornton would certainly seem to be the early favorite, as he has taken the bulk of the first team reps until hitting his pitch count for the day, as the Colts are working him back into the mix slowly after missing offseason work due to injury. But Good has played pretty much exclusively guard in camp, and it’s interesting that Chud mentioned Joe Haeg in there as well (without mentioning Harrison). Haeg has been working pretty much exclusively at guard in camp as well, though he hasn’t been seen working with the first team much at all. If the Colts are getting close to figuring out who that starter is, they’re not sharing. Right now? They’re working on finding the right guys.
“The number one thing for me is to make sure that we got the right five,” Chud said. “If you don’t have the right five you can have continuity, but you don’t have the right five. And some point down the road, that’s going to hurt you. So it’s getting the right five as soon as we can, as soon as we can identify that right five, and that’s a process. Sometimes that process can go the whole preseason, sometimes it can go a week or two. In my experiences, if you set a date on that you’re making a mistake, typically. But we’ll assess that and get to that point and get those five together and working together and talking together and all those things that group needs to do.”
It’s hard to read that quote from Rob Chudzinski without thinking back to last season and the mess the Colts had in relation to their offensive line to start the year. Chuck Pagano and the rest of the team preached continuity relentlessly throughout the preseason as their biggest emphasis. In an ideal world, that’s the correct emphasis, as the offensive line unit does need to learn to play together. But the problem the Colts ran into was that they didn’t have the right five players they were building that continuity with. They opened the season with Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Lance Louis at left guard, Khaled Holmes at center, Todd Herremans at right guard, and Jack Mewhort at right tackle. After just two games, they blew it all up and made sweeping changes. The lesson learned? While continuity is important, so is finding the best five. As Chud said, if you have the wrong five you might have continuity, but you’ll still have the wrong five.
That emphasis for the Colts is the correct one, but it places more pressure on them being to analyze and identify who the best player is at right guard. The other four spots seem to be pretty set, as Anthony Castonzo is at left tackle, Jack Mewhort is at left guard, Ryan Kelly is at center, and Joe Reitz is at right tackle. But at right guard there are still several players who are competing, and the Colts are still evaluating them to determine who the best option is.