Indianapolis Colts: Who will replace Quenton Nelson at left guard?

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 10: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - NOVEMBER 10: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Indianapolis Colts were banking on the security that an offensive line featuring Quenton Nelson would lead a turnaround for quarterback Carson Wentz. Considering that Nelson has been named a first-team All-Pro selection in each of his first three seasons, that’s not a bad gamble to take.

What’s perhaps just as impressive is that Nelson hasn’t missed a game since he arrived in Indianapolis, and that durability has helped him become the best player at his individual position in the game.

The gap between Nelson and whomever is the second-best offensive guard in the game is considerable … because, well, we can’t think of someone tailing him off the top of our head.

Nonetheless, Nelson’s blocking was going to be in even higher demand this season, as Wentz was ruled out for anywhere from 5-12 weeks due to a foot injury. Coincidentally … Nelson has that very same foot issue and will also undergo surgery and miss 5-12 weeks. You can’t make this up, as head coach Frank Reich said.

Now, someone will need to step up between left tackle Sam Tevi and center Ryan Kelly to fill the cavernous hole on the offensive line. Who is capable of rising to the challenge?

Who will replace Quenton Nelson in the Colts starting lineup?

The most likely candidate to replace Nelson is Chris Reed. A former undrafted free agent out of Minnesota State, Reed started 14 games for the Carolina Panthers last season. While not anywhere close to Nelson, he’s at least a serviceable guard at this level.

2020 fifth-round pick Danny Pinter, who has been seeing reps at center, may also be in line for the job due to his experience at guard. If the Colts thought highly enough of Pinter to draft him, he could justify that decision filling in for Nelson until he’s able to return.

Former Cardinals fifth-round pick and ex-Ravens lineman Will Holden, who has experience at tackle and guard, could also be identified as a Nelson Band-Aid. Joey Hunt is on the roster as the nominal backup center, as is a 2021 seventh-round selection in Penn State’s Will Fries.

Nelson is not going to miss the whole season, but Indy might need to prepare for a month without the best guard in pro football against teams like the Seahawks, Rams, Titans and Ravens. They will need some heroic efforts from players like Reed and Pinter if they are to weather a very tough schedule without their best player in the mix.