WESTFIELD, Ind. – Jack Mewhort realized he was heading into a make-it-or-break-it offseason with the Indianapolis Colts.
As it turns out, it proved to be the end of the line for the veteran guard.
Oft-injured during his four-year career with the team – he finished the last two seasons on the injured reserve list with knee issues – Mewhort announced his retirement Wednesday. He had signed what amounted to a one-year, $1.5 million prove-it contract in mid-March.
“I would like to thank the Irsay family and the entire Colts organization for giving me the opportunity to live a childhood dream,’’ Mewhort said in a statement released by the team. “The fans and the city of Indianapolis have treated me like one of their own and I am forever grateful.’’
General manager Chris Ballard praised Mewhort’s tenacity while battling “through injuries and (playing) through pain. Jack is a selfless player who always carried a team-first mentality.’’
Mewhort was a 2014 second-round draft, and his departure leaves the team with zero players from that draft class. He started 45 of 64 regular-season games, spreading them among left guard (36), right guard (five) and right tackle (four).
Despite emerging as a fixture on the offensive line, injuries began to limit his effectiveness and availability. Mewhort finished a second straight season on IR, and became an unrestricted free agent in March.
Instead of seriously testing the veteran free-agent market, he determined his best option for extending his career was with the Colts.
“To be able to be back in this building is awesome,’’ Mewhort said in March. “For Chris Ballard to show faith in me, it’s an unreal feeling. It kind of melts my heart a little bit. Now it’s up to me to show that I can get back to being the kind of player I know I am and get healthy, stay healthy and be a valuable asset to this team.
“At this level, nothing’s guaranteed, nothing’s given to you. You really have to lock in and focus on what’s important and the small details and realize that every little, small opportunity you get could be the last.’’
Mewhort had been one day off during the first week of camp, and obviously wasn’t at Wednesday’s practice. He primarily had been working in the backup guard rotation, and also took reps at tackle when injuries thinned the postion.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51