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Colts kick tires, need to take Jeremy Zuttah for test drive

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts had some obvious takeaways from Sunday’s first preseason game that stood out to all of us. One of those is that the team is down a handful of their most important protectors, and the depth players who played quite a bit had some notable struggles.

Joe Haeg, Ryan Kelly and Denzelle Good have been lost recently which limited the unit against the Detroit Lions, and one of the offensive line’s most important depth guys – presumably – in Brian Schwenke hasn’t seen a single lick in camp to this point at all. Naturally, this presents a problem.

While Chuck Pagano has stated that Schwenke “is doing good, but he is still not back,” that the team expects Haeg and Good back early this week and Kelly in a couple weeks the concerns should be real in securing the depth needed with the unit.

Monday Pagano stated that the team was “kicking the tires” on veteran interior lineman Jeremy Zuttah in order to do just that. Pagano maintains that “he seems to be a guy that’s got a ton of experience so we bring him in and visit with him” and that “we haven’t made any decisions on that.”

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Larry French/Getty Images

Despite being in that dreaded 30-plus territory in age, Zuttah offers exactly what the Colts need right now, and they should probably make a play for him. Zuttah can play guard as well as center, has played in at least 15 games in 7 of the last 8 seasons and was a pro bowl selection last year with the Baltimore Ravens.

This doesn’t appear to be due to fear of Kelly being out for a significant amount of time, in fact Pagano said as much, offering “It has nothing to do with, don’t read anything into that based on Ryan’s status.” If we’re reading into that correctly, it forces us to lean in the direction of that being possibly a question as to how long Schwenke could be out.

But, there are additional reasons for the experience and talent to be brought in. Jeremy Vujnovich, Adam Redmond and Blake Muir failed to turn any heads with their initial performance Sunday. And if we’re being realistic, Jack Mewhort always feels like he’s one play away from injured reserve as well — especially as he has been limited as part of his recovery.

So, if Schwenke’s return continues to be up in the air, and the existing depth is an issue, can the Colts really afford NOT to sign an experienced veteran like Zuttah? Additionally, regardless of how some of us – me – feel about the unit’s potential this season, they did give up 44 sacks last season and there’s no need to be coy about solidifying the line’s depth.

If we’re looking over the available list, there’s simply not much there for the taking that has the combination of experience and talent outside of Zuttah. Chris Ballard and the Colts could do a lot worse, and the need for a proven protector is very real as the Colts are only a few weeks from kicking off the regular season.

Looking around too late may prove to be fruitless with offensive line being one of those positions that get a lot of attention through the preseason as starters and backups alike tend to drop like flies. Time to take Zuttah for a test drive.