Colts Starting Offensive Line Remains Intact, Depth Needed Up Front
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INDIANAPOLIS – What a difference a year makes.
A year ago, an outspoken Chris Ballard was frustrated with the lack of resources he committed to the offensive line in his first offseason as the general manager of the Colts.
He didn’t make that mistake in Year Two.
The returns led to the Colts finding wins where the victory came thanks to a huge day on the ground, and consistent pass protection all season long.
Four offensive line starters changed from the 2017 season to this past year’s starting group.
As long as health cooperates, the Colts will have the same starting 5 this coming season as they closed the '18 campaign:
LT-Anthony Castonzo (age: 30, under contract through 2019)
LG-Quenton Nelson (age: 22, under contract through 2021/2022, team option for 2023)
C-Ryan Kelly (age: 25, under contract through 2019/2020, team option for 2020)
RG-Mark Glowinski (age: 26, under contract through 2021)
RT-Braden Smith (age: 22, under contract through 2021)
They secured that last week, after re-signing Glowinski to a three-year deal.
All 5 starters from 2018 are now under contract through 2019.
The word ‘continuity’ that had been so elusive for the Colts offensive line to obtain throughout the start of Andrew Luck’s career will be there going into next season.
For the first time in Luck’s entire career (one that has seen him line up behind 42 different offensive line combinations), he enters a season with his entire starting offensive line set.
So where are the needs for the offensive line in 2019?
“I think we have a little bit of depth, but I want to continue to add to that,” Ballard said just before re-signing Glowinski.
Ballard wants 10 capable linemen to not only help the Colts properly evaluate their second and third offensive units in the preseason, but also to survive the attrition that inevitably comes in an NFL regular season.
By Week Six of the 2018 season, the Colts had already placed three offensive linemen on injured reserve.
They relied on the depth of Le’Raven Clark, Joe Haeg and Evan Boehm to provide necessary depth. All three remain under contract for 2019.
Outside of securing more depth for the offensive line, it’s probably wise for Ballard to have one eye on the young tackle prospects in the draft.
Anthony Castonzo turns 31 years old this season, which also happens to be the final year of his second NFL contract.
Do the Colts need to start thinking about life after Castonzo protecting the blindside?
That would be smart.
For 2019 though, the veteran returners up front know the luxury the Colts have with their line.
“It is still a young room,” Kelly points out. “That’s obviously exciting. You obviously want to keep that line together for a long period of time.”
“We showed what we can do,” Castonzo said of the line’s performance in 2018. “We have that young talent, too. I’m the oldest guy and I feel younger than I’ve ever been. Maybe it’s from being around the younger guys. It’s exciting to have that confidence going into the offseason.”