Colts Offense: Potential Position Battles to Watch
By Dave McKee
Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Battle of the OL: Who fills out the Right side of the Offensive Line?
The Colts Offensive Line has taken the brunt of the negativity this offseason. Despite being blamed for not opening holes for the running game and for not protecting Luck, the embattled offensive line might already be better than anyone believes. With recent addition-by-subtraction in the form of RB Trent Richardson’s release, the running game is already better on paper. As for the pass protection, one can only hope that the amount snaps played has added to the overall experience for the group.
The left side of the offensive line which is composed of LT Anthony Castonzo and LG Jack Mewhort is solid and the strongest positions on the offensive line. Barring any injuries or reshuffling of the line these two are penciled in as week one starters. It is the Center and right side of the line that has people asking serious questions following the free agency period and NFL Draft.
Who will start at Center? Is Gosder Cherilus going to be 100 percent or will he need to be replaced at RT? Does Todd Herremans replace Hugh Thornton at RG or slide to RT in case Cherilus is unable to go? Will Joe Reitz finally earn a starting position after resigning in the offseason? These are the questions that make this position group the most intriguing set of position battles on offense.
Who will start at Center?
Currently, the Colts have two centers on the roster with NFL starting experience in Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison. The Indianapolis Colts did not add any players to this position in the draft, but did sign 2015 UDFA Brandon Vitabile from Northwestern University. Vitabile started in 48 games in his three-year career for the Wildcats.
In 2014, Holmes suffered a high ankle sprain early in the preseason and was replaced by 2014 UDFA Harrison. Harrison went from undrafted to starter in a matter of one week and did a commendable job for someone thrust into the starting position starting 10 games for the Colts. Holmes replaced Harrison starting the final five regular season games and the three playoff games.
Harrison struggled with pass protection at times and had a few too many communication and turnover issues in his 10 game stint. Holmes is far from guaranteed to start and has also been plagued with injuries in his two previous seasons. Perhaps Vitabile surprises both and becomes the starter but for right now, as offensive line coach Joe Gilbert recently told Colts.com writer Steve Andress, “We’re rotating them through the time right now,” Colts Offensive Line Coach Joe Gilbert told Colts.com Wednesday. “I think they know the competition is between the two of them.”
Will Gosder Cherilus remain the starting RT?
Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive tackle was considered by many to be an important need in the final weeks heading into the NFL Draft. There has been some mystery regarding the status of Cherilus following the 2014 season.He was beleaguered with one injury after another and was never truly 100 percent. As such he struggled in pass protection and his impact in the run game was sub par. Currently, Cherilus has a return date of June, well… June-ish according to Grigson.
Should he be unable to return to his 2013 form it is likely that the Colts will have to look to one of the others to slide to RT. Whispers have already begun in the media regarding this situation and a majority believe that if Cherilus is not healthy it is likely that Mewhort or Herremans sleds over to RT.
Another name mentioned is that of Joe Reitz, a former Hamilton Southeastern (H.S) standout and local fan favorite. Reitz is one of five players remaining from the Bill Polian era and started several games at varying positions last season and like Herremans is heralded for his versatility, which was the main reason he was re-signed in the offseason.