Last year, a handful of important Colts players were impacted by injuries - and we’re not talking about quarterback Andrew Luck, though he’d certainly fit into this category as well.
We’re talking about defensive linemen Henry Anderson and Kendall Langford, as well as left guard Jack Mewhort.
Anderson was still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in 2015 and admitted this offseason that he was never 100% last year. Langford suffered a knee injury in training camp and, though he started seven games, wound up on IR midseason. And Mewhort suffered a knee injury late in the season that also resulted in him winding up on IR. Entering 2017, all three of those players returning to health and a top-tier level of play is crucial for the Colts.
Thankfully, there’s reason to think that will happen.
Anderson admitted on Monday that last year he never felt quite right as he worked his way back from his ACL injury.
“It’s hard because I try not to think about it, but certain movements hurt really bad,” Anderson said. “It’s hard because I was constantly having to play conservatively because I knew that certain positions and certain movements, like flipping my hips or turning a corner, would make it hurt pretty bad. I tried not to think about it but my play style had to change a little to adapt to the status of my knee. I guess I was thinking about it more than I should’ve been but hopefully that is all over with. It’s not even like I was thinking about it and it wasn’t hurting. I am glad it’s over with.”
Anderson said that he has “a lot more confidence in that knee now” as he’s over a year removed from surgery, and he said that he’s feeling 100 percent now.
“Yeah, it feels 100 percent,” he said, “and I think being out there and going through drills – I think going through these helmets practices a month away will be good in getting full confidence back in it. I kept tweaking it and it was just never, it was just kind of bothering me all year so having a full three-plus months to get it right helped a lot and I think confidence is the biggest part right now but I think it is good.”
Having Anderson return to his pre-injury form would be a tremendous boost to the Colts’ defense, as in 2015 he was one of the team’s best players. Likewise, it would be huge if Kendall Langford could return to his pre-injury form of 2015 as well.
“I’m progressing,” Langford said on Monday. “I definitely – one guarantee I can say is that I’ll be ready come season, training camp, all those good things. So I’m moving in the right direction right now on my rehab and taking it one day at a time.”
Anderson said that he feels 100 percent now and Langford guaranteed that he’ll be ready for training camp, so those are both encouraging signs. And if Anderson and Langford really do return to form and move on from their injuries, the impact could be massive. The Colts have already made a splash along their defensive line in adding Johnathan Hankins, and they also have intriguing players such as Haasan Ridgeway, T.Y. McGill, David Parry, and Al Woods who could provide depth as well. A defensive line with a healthy Henry Anderson, a healthy Kendall Langford, Johnathan Hankins, and several key rotational guys would figure to be a great strength for the Colts defensively. As Chuck Pagano said earlier this offseason, getting Anderson and Langford back healthy is a “huge factor” in the success of the team’s defense in 2017.
On the other side of the football, getting Jack Mewhort back healthy will be a huge factor of the success of the offensive line in 2017, too.
“Yeah, I feel great physically,” Mewhort said on Monday. “I spent a lot of time this offseason kind of just resetting the whole system and not only taking care of stuff that happened to me last season but working on the whole package – mentally, physically, spiritually. Being back here with the guys makes me feel a lot better. I can’t wait to turn the page on last year and start moving forward feeling good. Positive, good energy and physically feel the best I’ve felt.”
Mewhort is entrenched as the team’s left guard and is a very good player, and with there still being questions about the Colts up front it will be important to get him back healthy.
The major injury focus with the Colts this offseason will be, understandably, on quarterback Andrew Luck. That’s what happens when the team’s best and most important player, at the game’s most important position, had surgery on his throwing shoulder. But that shouldn’t mean we overlook some of the other injury situations either, as getting Henry Anderson, Kendall Langford, and Jack Mewhort back healthy are all important for the Colts too. So far, it sounds like there’s plenty of reason to think that will happen.