That being said, there have been three unsung heroes for the team—specifically along the offensive line, who have helped this team stay afloat in the AFC playoff hunt and maintain largely continued success down the season’s stretch run—despite a number of injuries, COVID-19 inactives, and even unfortunately, personal tragedy.
And they’re all backups.
The trio has 14 starts among them this season for the Colts—all over the offensive line from left tackle to right, and have predominantly played well in each and every one of them.
Per PFF (subscription), although Pryor’s also played at starting right guard, he is currently their 29th best graded offensive tackle overall with a +75.9 overall grade. He was the Colts’ highest graded overall player in Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Las Vegas Raiders featuring a +87.7 overall grade—as one of the few bright spots to take away from the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Reed is currently graded as PFF’s 42nd best overall guard—including a run blocking grade of +68.1, 28th best among all guards. He was exceptional in Week 16 against the Arizona Cardinals filling in for 3x NFL First-Team All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson (Reserve/COVID-19 list), and the team hasn’t really lost a beat when he’s replaced either Nelson or starting right guard Mark Glowinski with the Colts’ first-team offense.
Lastly, there’s 2nd-year center Danny Pinter, who could also presumably play offensive guard in a pinch for the Colts. Pinter has a +74.8 overall grade at center, which if he qualified, would place him as PFF’s 11th best graded center at the position right now.
Not to mention, his +61.8 receiving grade, having caught a surprising touchdown reception during Week 9 against the New York Jets is the 2nd best at his position. Like the aforementioned offensive line pair, he’s also excelled in recent weeks—especially in Week 13’s blowout win against the Houston Texans during his first career NFL start.
Between the trio, Pryor, Reed, and Pinter have each allowed in pass protection during the 2021 campaign as follows:
- Pryor: 7 total QB pressures and 0 sacks in 222 total pass blocking snaps.
- Reed: 16 total QB pressures and 0 sacks in 284 total pass blocking snaps.
- Pinter: 4 total QB pressures and 0 sacks in 79 total pass blocking snaps.
That’s 0 total sacks among them surrendered.
Each being an asset in the running game, they’ve also helped pave the way when called upon for Taylor to amass both his league-high 1,734 total rushing yards and 18 total rushing touchdowns in a truly historical season, let alone for the Colts franchise.
Last year, the Colts’ offensive line depth was a struggle all season. Backups like Chaz Green, Will Holden, and Le’Raven Clark were deficiencies as sub-level starting replacements—and probably not coincidentally, none of them are still with the team. It was only when veteran offensive tackle Jared Veldheer was signed, that the Colts finally found some late season relief.
This year, there hasn’t had to be any last ditch emergency attempt to sign a veteran o-lineman or churn out the active roster because the trio of Pryor, Reed, and Pinter have proven to be starting caliber replacements, each as the ‘Next man up!’ for the Colts.
Not just providing them insurance, but giving them great production in the process.