Colts Lineman Hugh Thornton Still Recovering


Since he was drafted in 2012, Andrew Luck has been among the most harried quarterbacks in the NFL. The Indianapolis Colts have tried to shore up the offensive line, but the moves made by GM Ryan Grigson haven’t produced better results.

In 2013, the Colts took offensive linemen in the third and fourth rounds. Their third round pick, Hugh Thornton, looked promising but injuries have derailed his progress over the past two seasons.

Thornton was tagged as the starter at right guard last season but made just eight starts. He injured his MCL late in the year and played a few snaps in the regular season finale before being placed on IR for the playoffs.

Thornton was thrust into the starting spot his rookie season after Donald Thomas tore his quad. His rookie season was dismal, but he was never expected to start in 2013. 2014 was slightly better, but still not the type of season the Colts want from a starting guard.

Mike Well of ESPN spoke with Thornton about the pressure to produce going into 2015 and the added competition to make the roster.

"“Every year is huge,” Thornton said. “I’ve got to earn a spot on this roster. Ultimately I want to earn a spot playing. I’m a team guy. Whatever they need me to play, want me to play, I’ll play it to the best of my ability. Obviously injures are a huge part of the game. We’ve got some depth at offensive line now where we have a bunch of starters battling for one spot.”"

The Colts signed Todd Herremans after he was cut by the Eagles in the offseason. They also have former CFL guard Ben Heenan, Lance Louis, and Joe Reitz competing for spots on the roster.

While most of Thornton’s problems stem from injuries (he dealt with ankle, shoulder, and knee problems throughout 2014), he’s also struggled to string together good performances on the field. In 2013, he’d follow up one good game with two bad ones. In 2014 it was a pattern of good performance, injury, missed game, bad return, and repeat.

"“It’s frustrating,” Thornton said. “My goal last year, and anybody’s goal, is to play consistent, but when you’re physically unable it hinders your consistency on a week-to-week basis. The biggest thing is to stay healthy and focus on the fundamentals and do my job to the best of my abilities.”"

Thornton has had two rough seasons, but he isn’t the worst option the team has at guard (Louis was far worse last season). According to Pro Football Focus, Thornton recorded a -6.7 grade in nine games last season, four of those games were decent but two of them were abysmal. In 2013, he finished the year with a -18.3 overall grade. Five of his 15 starts were fairly good, but the rest was a train wreck. The good news is that he made a lot of progress from year one to two.

There is still the possiblity that a healthy Thornton could develop into a decent starter but that window is closing. He’ll have his chances in training camp, but the competition is much stiffer this time around.