Colts: Could Eric Fisher see decrease in snaps when Braden Smith returns?
By Jerry Trotta
The Indianapolis Colts‘ win over San Francicso on Sunday sets up a massive showdown against Tennessee in Week 8.
After all, if the Colts win that game, they’ll pull within one game of the Titans for the AFC South lead. It seemed impossible after Indy started 0-3 and 1-4, but they deserve credit for turning their season around.
Having said that, the Titans are riding high on confidence after they defeated Buffalo and Kansas City in consecutive wins. They’re playing their best football of the year, so the Colts will need all hands on deck this Sunday.
The good news is that Indianapolis is optimistic that TY Hilton (quad) and Braden Smith (foot) will return to the starting lineup in Week 8. We’d obviously monitor the injury report throughout the week for updates, but that’s a promising sign.
While both players will provide a spark to the offense, let’s focus on what Smith’s return means for the offensive line rotation.
What should the Colts offensive line rotation look like with Braden Smith nearing a return?
Smith’s return creates quite the conundrum for Frank Reich and the rest of the coaching staff. Matt Pryor, whom the Colts acquired from the Eagles before the regular season, has been a revelation filling in at right tackle for Smith.
Smith will obviously slot back in at RT. We wouldn’t dream of moving the newly-minted $72.4 million lineman to left tackle. He’s played in one game this season. It would be insane to shift him to LT in his first game back.
At the same time, though, we — like most Colts fans — are intrigued by the idea of having Pryor and Eric Fisher split snaps at left tackle.
We hate to come down Fisher, but he’s been the poster child of what was a disappointing offseason for Indy. He’s the team’s lowest-graded offensive lineman not named Julién Davenport through seven weeks, per Pro Football Focus. You could honestly make a compilation video of all his lowlights from this season.
The good news is that the Colts have options. Moving Quenton Nelson to LT, where he played a little in 2020, and deploying Pryor at left guard — he started 10 games at the position for Philly last year– is another potential contingency plan.
The million-dollar question, of course, is whether Reich is willing to swallow his pride and bench an established veteran like Fisher.
The 30-year-old has clearly lost a step post Achilles surgery — so much so, in fact, that we can’t help but hold our breath whenever Carson Wentz drops back to pass. His blindside is almost never fully protected.
Whatever the plan is, the Colts have no reason to keep playing Fisher 100% of the snaps at left tackle with Smith nearing a return.