When Will Injured Colts Return to Action?


Its no secret that the Indianapolis Colts are among the most injury prone teams in the NFL. They seem to routinely lose key players for the season every single year.

According to Scott Kacsmar at Football Outsiders, the Colts ranked 30th in Adjusted Games Lost in 2014. The AGL metric quantifies the impact that a team suffered due to injuries.

From Kacsmar’s breakdown:

"The Colts ranked 30th in AGL for the third year in a row and have ranked 24th or worse in nine straight seasons. Jon Torine was the strength and conditioning coach from 1998 to 2011, but he was replaced in 2012 by Roger Marandino. Despite three head coaches since 2002, Ryan Grigson’s annual roster purge, and new philosophies on both sides of the ball, the Colts continue to be one of the NFL’s most injured teams each season. Yes, I just copied most of last year’s paragraph, because nothing changed in Indianapolis on the injury front."

With all the changes to the staff and roster over the past decade, the team still suffers from catastrophic injuries year after year. 2014 saw the team lose Robert Mathis on defense and Ahmad Bradshaw on offense (at least Bradshaw was able to contribute something), not to mention the constant shuffling on both the offensive and defensive lines.

But it wasn’t all bad news, the Colts did manage to overachieve in spite of the lost players:

"Among the bottom 10 teams in 2014 AGL, the Colts were the only team to make the playoffs. The 2012 Packers, 2013 Colts and 2014 Colts (two games) have the only four playoff wins by teams with more than 100 AGL."

Here are the players to be placed on injured reserve last season (in order!) and excluding waived players:

Fili Moala, Aaron Morgan, Donald Thomas, Daniel Adongo, Jeris Pendleton, Shawn Loiseau, Vick Ballard, Ulrick John, Xavier Nixon (IR Designated to Return) – all sent to IR before the season began.

Cam Johnson, Mathis (reserve/non-football injury list), Bradshaw, Gosder Cherilus, and Hugh Thornton.

Aug 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis talks to teammates while in the bench area during a game against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve heard that Mathis might not return until November, according to team owner Jim Irsay, but now we have some information on some of the others. Both GM Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano addressed the injury issues earlier this week.

“Again, they’re all going through the rehab process,” Pagano said, via ESPN’s Mike Wells. “We get some updates periodically from Dave Hammer and the guys about all those guys. There isn’t a specific date on any of those guys as to their return at this time.”

Cherilus is one of the more interesting injured players. In 2013, he played very well but clearly wasn’t the same player in 2014. He was eventually placed on IR with knee and groin injuries (but curiously never appeared on the weekly injury report until late in the year).

Oct 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts tackle Gosder Cherilus (78) blocks at the line of scrimmage against Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds (93) during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 51-34. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cherilus’ health in integral to the success of the line as the Colts center and right guard positions are question marks heading into next season. A healthy Cherilus would help solidify the protection and give Andrew Luck more time in the pocket.

“’Gos’ is how he’s wired. He’s a tough, tough guy, almost to a detriment I think sometimes,” Grigson said. “Once we get him out there doing field work, watch and see how he looks, see how he’s come along in that dialogue because you know, tackles are hard to find. We really like Gos, but we’ve got to see how he comes back.”

Thomas was signed to play right guard for the Colts in 2013, but he’s only appeared in two games since then due to tears in his quads and bicep. Really, he’s been in just over a game only playing 72 snaps for the team in 2013. He re-tore his quad in training camp this past year.

“It’s not for lack of effort or attitude. He’s (Thomas) a great pro,” Grigson said. “He’s not ready yet. Those decisions and where he’s at will be defined by his actual progress physically. This is a hard game. He’s got to be confident that he can play on that thing again and make sure that he’ll be able to stay healthy.”

I’d expect the Colts to take a cautious approach with Thomas considering the repeat injuries. If he’s back for camp, I wouldn’t expect him to play in preseason games and he’ll likely be fighting for a roster spot.

Its reasonable to believe that all the players who suffered injuries before the season began should be back in time for training camp. As for the others, there clearly isn’t a timetable for their return and it doesn’t sound like the Colts will be rushing them onto the field when training camp opens on July 23rd.

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