The Colts offensive line looks like it might get a big boost this week as Ryan Kelly makes his return to practice after missing two weeks with an MCL sprain. That’s big news for a Colts offense that has clearly been impacted by his absence.
Colts center Ryan Kelly will return to practice today.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 12, 2018
The offensive line has been solid despite Kelly missing time, but the drop off from the pro bowl-level center to a backup is not insignificant, and Evan Boehm just doesn’t offer the ability Ryan Kelly does. That isn’t a knock on Boehm, who really has been great as a backup. However, Kelly is the leader of this offensive line and the guy responsible for calling out protections and keeping guys on the same page. That matters when you’re desperately fighting for a playoff spot and it is great news for the Colts.
It remains to be seen whether Kelly will respond well in practice, and there is also the question of how right guard Mark Glowinski is doing after leaving last Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. If both are able to suit up this week, it will bode well for the finish of this season and mean a full offensive line that has been one of the best in football as they head toward a potential playoff berth.
The impacts of a healthy offensive line are twofold. First, you’ve got a likely improvement in the running game, something the team has not been able to do effectively since losing Kelly and tight end Jack Doyle. When the Colts are able to run the ball, they are much more dynamic and difficult to defend. They’ve proven that they can beat even a good defense with the passing game alone, but if they are able to end the regular season providing a dual threat, they’ll be primed to do some damage.
Second, you provide Andrew Luck with time in the pocket, something that has proven very hard to deal with for all but the best defenses in the league this season. With Luck continuing to look better and better as the season goes on and his connection with T.Y. Hilton heating up, this could be a major key to an electrifying finish to this season for this offense.