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Colts still evaluating roster at tackle; Castonzo could get snaps in preseason

The Colts are moving anyone who could challenge for the tackle positions in order to see what they’ve got. Their star tackle, Anthony Castonzo, anxiously awaits his return to an improved group.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Minicamp Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Each and every day we get excited about the fact that the Indianapolis Colts have improved the interior of their offensive line in the offseason. The additions of Quenton Nelson and Matt Slauson flanking Ryan Kelly has given the Colts more of an attitude up front and it’s noticeable.

However, the Colts are still very much in a process with the tackle position. Normally, this wouldn’t be too big of a deal as Anthony Castonzo has been the pillar of health for the Colts at left tackle. His durability is now going to be tested after he re-aggravated the hamstring issue that had him on the PUP list to begin with.

It doesn’t look as though he’s expected to miss any time into the regular season and Frank Reich believes that he’s likely to get some snaps in the preseason, but doesn’t feel it’s the end of the world if he has to wait until the regular season opener. In the meantime the Colts are working in several other linemen to see who might be able to be an immediate backup to Castonzo, but also to see who is actually going to hold down the right tackle position this year.

We expected Austin Howard to get the nod coming in after the Colts signed him for that very reason in the offsesaon, but he’s not getting the starting snaps at the moment. Thursday newly acquired tackle J’Marcus Webb ran with the ones and Joe Haeg started at left tackle.

Webb has been getting them in practice too, but in order to have the competition, each player within that battle have to get snaps to see what they can do. Week 2 of the preseason could bring a new set of starters at the bookends to evaluate in a game-like situation.

Reich stated Saturday that they like what Howard brings, but it’s a competition that’s playing out right now. This is, both, concerning and refreshing to hear. We want the guys they bring in to work out, but even they aren’t just going to hand the position over to someone they brought in to do so.

In camp we’ve seen rookie guard Braden Smith get into the mix at right tackle, though he didn’t look great in the first several days of that experiment. Denzelle Good has been out, and would be in the thick of this competition if he were healthy. Smith is getting moved around quite a bit despite his past struggles taking on the pass rushers in practice and the coaching staff is taking another stab at it.

Smith got some reps at right tackle in the Colts first preseason game, and now even Le’Raven Clark has gotten some starter reps along with Smith today in practice.

It’s good to see the work being done to get the best available tackles the snaps they need. But come Week 1, we really need Castonzo to be healthy if we have any hopes for this line to take the next step. We should also hope for Good to get back to the practice field very soon in order for the competition to be complete.

The Colts depth along the offensive line was one of the most important issues being corrected from years previous, and even though a couple options are dinged up the improvement is still evident.

Nevertheless, Castonzo’s durability in past years was crucial in putting a respectable line on the field, and even that didn’t always happen. Now that he’s being sidelined for a bit, the line needs him more than ever in order to become a strength on this team. This, folks, we believe is possible for the first time in forever.