The Indianapolis Colts have already ruled out four starters ahead of Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings including offensive guard Denzelle Good (concussion), defensive lineman Art Jones (groin), wide receiver Donte Moncrief (hamstring), and offensive tackle Joe Reitz (back).
Obviously, the losses appear to be significant especially along the offensive line.
With starting left guard Jack Mewhort already out for the season with a knee injury, the Colts will presumably be starting Anthony Castonzo (LT), Jonotthan Harrison (LG), Ryan Kelly (C), Joe Haeg (RG), and Le’Raven Clark (RT).
Outside of Castonzo, the unit is not only young, but also very inexperienced. Specifically, Jonotthan Harrison has one prior career start at left guard while rookie Joe Haeg has 3 career starts at right guard–with fellow rookie offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark presumably making his first career start all together at right tackle.
Facing a ferocious Minnesota Vikings defense that ranks 4th in the NFL for most sacks with 35.0 total sacks on the season, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck could be in line for another long day as it relates to the team’s shoddy pass protection given the significant inexperience upfront.
Not having the team’s 2nd-wide receiver, Moncrief, will also be a substantial blow to the offense, as he’s the team’s best red zone threat with 5 receiving touchdowns in the Colts last 6 games–having seen his consecutive game receiving touchdown streak come to an end last weekend because of his hamstring injury.
Certainly not helping matters is that the team’s 3rd wide receiver, Phillip Dorsett, is currently listed as ‘questionable’ with a groin injury.
However, Dorsett was a full participant in Friday’s practice and it looks as though he has a strong chance of playing on Sunday.
With Moncrief out, the Colts could surely use him with undrafted rookie Chester Rogers also seeing an increased role in the offense.
The good news is that key rotational defensive lineman Zach Kerr (concussion)–who missed last weekend’s game, is listed as ‘questionable’ but has been a full participant for consecutive days. If he can clear the league’s concussion protocol, he has a good chance of helping to replace some of Jones’ lost production–especially against the run.
It’s worth noting that the Colts will also be counting on young rotational defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway (who’s flashed as a pass rusher in recent weeks) and T.Y. McGill to also help fill-in for Jones–with both players seeing increased in-game reps.
Otherwise, there are two other ‘questionable’ Colts.
Tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) is listed as ‘questionable’, but was a full participant in Friday’s practice which is a positive sign. It looks like he’ll play, but it’s a bit concerning because Allen did have a season-ending hip surgery in 2013 that cost him 15 games–although it’s unclear whether it’s even the same hip.
With Moncrief out and an aggressive Vikings pass rush (as mentioned), the Colts could presumably feature more 2-tight end sets with Allen and 2nd tight end Jack Doyle to help bolster their pass protection with more big bodies in-tight for blocking.
Lastly, it looks as though rookie T.J. Green (ankle), ‘questionable’, may be just the latest Colts young safety to miss games with an injury, as 2nd-year safety Clayton Geathers (neck) was already placed on season-ending injured reserve earlier this week.
While Green’s injury doesn’t look as severe, he didn’t participate in Friday’s practice after being limited during Thursday’s go-around. It looks like his status for Sunday is in serious doubt, and it appears as though nickelback Darius Butler could start alongside veteran Mike Adams at safety instead.
As it stands, the Colts are clearly banged up this late in the season.