Colts now must worry about offensive line after Carson Wentz’s surprise progression

WESTFIELD, INDIANA - JULY 25: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Indianapolis Colts. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
WESTFIELD, INDIANA - JULY 25: Quenton Nelson #56 of the Indianapolis Colts. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Indianapolis Colts fans saw it. It definitely appears as if quarterback Carson Wentz will be ready in three weeks’ time to battle the Seattle Seahawks in the 2021 season opener.

Awesome news! He underwent foot surgery on Aug. 3 and was given a 5-12 week timetable for return, but is already back on the practice field, moving aggressively, and has enough of a buffer to put himself on track for the start of the year, which was initially put in serious doubt.

Let’s be optimistic and say Wentz goes through his rehab swimmingly, suffers no setbacks, and is a full go for Sept. 12. That’d be massive news that every fan would be celebrating.

However … there’s something else to be worried about, and that’s the state of the offensive line. Even if Wentz is healthy, would it really matter if he doesn’t have the proper protection?

The Colts now need to worry about the offensive line after the Carson Wentz news.

As of this writing, the Colts do not have a left tackle. There are guys on the roster listed as left tackles, but none of them are suited for starting duties, and we really don’t think many would argue that point. Sam Tevi has been objectively bad in training camp and practices. Will Holden? Also not great. Julién Davenport has clearly been better than those two options, and he has just 28 starts across four NFL seasons.

We’re not sure when Eric Fisher will return from his Achilles injury, but it really can’t come soon enough.

And then there’s the interior O-line, which is just as big of a concern.

Quenton Nelson has the same injury as Wentz, and though he also returned to practice on Monday, there’s no telling if the Colts will feel comfortable expediting his situation to have him ready for Week 1. Again, we don’t need to go into detail about how complicated foot injuries can be.

Then there’s center Ryan Kelly, who joined Wentz and Nelson at practice on Monday. That’s another bit of good news, but an elbow injury has kept him out since early in training camp. Will he be able to get up to speed in three weeks? Maybe. But with a lack of sufficient offseason reps, there could be rust at the onset. Don’t forget that backup Danny Pinter has a foot injury that’s kept him out as well.

The other big problem here? The run game. Wentz being protected is priority No. 1, but if they can’t run the ball either? It’s going to be ugly. Indy needs a strong ground game to allow them to distribute the ball through the air in the manner they prefer, and Wentz certainly needs a capable backfield eating up yards if he wants to rebound after a career-worst season.

In their first two preseason games, the Colts have registered 203 yards on the ground, which doesn’t sound bad, but it took 68 attempts (2.98 YPC). That’s not going to cut it. If Jonathan Taylor is getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage and Wentz is running for his life, the Colts will have much bigger problems than they could’ve ever anticipated at the onset of the year.