The Colts may have reason to be optimistic about the offensive line heading into week two. Anthony Castonzo spoke to the media today and says he is “full-go” and that there is “no question” that he will play against Washington. In addition, it appears that both Castonzo and running back Marlon Mack were on the field to start practice today, which is another very encouraging sign.
#Colts LT Anthony Castonzo says he’s “full-go” this week at practice. Says it’s “no question” that he expects to play Sunday vs. the Redskins.— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) September 12, 2018
Both T Anthony Castonzo and RB Marlon Mack (hamstring) are out here. Castonzo said he expects to practice fully this week and play Sunday.— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) September 12, 2018
If everything goes as planned and Castonzo is healthy and ready to go on Sunday, it provides a major lift to the offensive line. In Castonzo’s absence, the line performed relatively well on Sunday against a pretty formidable group of defensive linemen. However, his return would allow Joe Haeg to slide over to the right tackle position, which just lost J’Marcus Webb with a hamstring injury.
Haeg is a better option at right tackle than Webb anyway, in all likelihood, but Castonzo is a huge improvement over Haeg on the left side. Paired with Quenton Nelson, Castonzo would ostensibly lock down the left side of the line and let any help or additional protection concentrate on the right side. There is a reason that starting caliber NFL left tackles are well paid, and getting him back would be a big difference maker for the offense.
The Colts’ offense relied heavily on quick-hitting, short throws to move the ball against the Bengals. It is unlikely that they’ll deviate significantly from that approach, but they will need to get deep shots involved in the game plan as well, and getting Castonzo back likely buys you the ability to make that happen a few times more than they were comfortable with in week one without him.
Perhaps the most noticeable impact will be in the running game, where the team struggled to get any kind of effective attack going. We don’t yet know if Mack will be able to play against Washington. The Colts have proven that they are not interested in rushing guys back to the field, and that is the smart approach. It wouldn’t help them to hurry either Castonzo or Mack back, just to have them re-injure themselves.
The return of Marlon Mack to the field is not insignificant either. Despite playing with a torn labrum all last year, Mack was often the most electrifying player on the field for the Colts. Given what we have seen from Frank Reich’s play design so far, we can surmise that he will find a way to get Mack the ball in space. The few times that the Colts did that last season, Mack made some pretty incredible things happen. If these two are available Sunday, the Colts could be a pretty exciting offense to watch.