The Indianapolis Colts got some excellent news on Friday. Anthony Richardson cleared concussion protocol and will return against the Los Angeles Rams in week four. The pain of his absence was minimized by the solid play from Gardner Minshew that translated into two straight wins for the surprisingly competitive 2023 Colts. Fans are certainly glad to see the rookie quarterback get the all clear as they just started getting a feel for what he is capable of over the first five quarters of his career.
Unfortunately, however, that is where the good news stops as news also broke that the offensive line is banged up.
The complexion of Rams-Colts has changed dramatically this afternoon.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) September 29, 2023
Yes, Richardson returns. But suddenly the Colts are facing the prospect of missing as many as three OLs. Kelly did not pass concussion protocol. Raimann picked up symptoms this week and Smith (hand) is iffy. https://t.co/BazB2Y5vcJ
If you are doing the math at home, that means the Colts could be without 3/5 of their starting offensive linemen. This is problematic for many reasons, including, but not limited to:
The offensive line is already paper thin from a depth perspective. There just aren’t many capable bodies left.
We have seen the Colts’ defensive front feast on opponents with injuries along their line. It has greatly aided in their ability to apply pressure. This could hold true against the Colts now.
As stated, Richardson is coming back after missing almost two entire games. Also, as mentioned, he has played five NFL quarters. This is not going to make his job any easier.
Finally, did I mention Aaron Donald lines up on defense for the Rams? Yeah, have fun with that one.
The thing that is working in the Colts favor is that they no longer have Matt Ryan, the human statue impersonator, under center. In limited sampling, Richardson has shown great ability to escape the pocket when things break down. The other positive is that even though Braden Smith has an “iffy” hand, he is not listed on the final injury report with any specific designation.
This is one of the reasons why having a mobile quarterback is such a luxury. It opens another dimension to their game when injuries occur at various positions up and down the roster. Ideally, the damage will be limited to only two linemen being out, but even then, it could spell trouble. Hopefully, Richardson’s cleats are tied tight because he might just be out there running for his life.