Colts could be in trouble with their offensive line vs Steelers

Colts RT Braden Smith (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Colts RT Braden Smith (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Colts will be down two key offensive linemen on Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts have a tremendous opportunity to solidify their playoff chances, which are already pretty favorable to begin with, when they take on the reeling Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon.

Unfortunately for Indy, however, that task has become a tad more complicated as they will be without two of their most important players.

Per a team announcement, stalwart offensive tackle tandem Braden Smith (COVID-19 list) and Anthony Castonzo (knee/ankle) will both miss the game, leaving the Colts extremely shorthanded up front against one of the most formidable front sevens in the league.

Regardless of whether Smith tested positive or was deemed to be a close contract, league protocols make him ineligible to play after he landed on the COVID-19 reserve list Friday.

The 2018 second-round pick’s matchup on the outside with TJ Watt was shaping up to be immense in determining the success of Indianapolis’ offense. Without Smith and knowing how unstoppable Watt has been this season, you have to think Philip Rivers will be looking to get the ball out of his hands fast than usual.

Castonzo, meanwhile, has been battling a knee injury for several weeks now, and was listed as questionable heading into the weekend after suffering an ankle injury at practice on Friday. The 33-year-old has been as good as ever this season and it’s going to be tough for the Colts to navigate his absence.

After all, their potential replacements (Chaz Green and Will Holden) probably don’t inspire much confidence. Green’s last start came in 2018 and he was benched during the blowout win over Las Vegas two weeks ago, whereas Holden has only been with the team since Dec. 10.

With that in mind, don’t be surprised if you see Quenton Nelson line up at left tackle on Sunday. The All-Pro guard played eight snaps at the position against the Raiders and by all measures delivered an inspiring cameo.

That should instill some confidence in Colts fans, but we’ll admit that this injury update is the last thing we wanted to see on the eve of such an important game.