INDIANAPOLIS – Anthony Castonzo is at a place in his NFL career that he probably couldn’t envision as a rookie.
“Yeah, double digits,’’ he said with a smile on a Monday Zoom conference call.
But the Indianapolis Colts’ left tackle is back for that 10th year only after coming to grips with a pair of life-impacting decisions.
First, the 2011 first-round draft pick decided against retirement and re-upped with a two-year, $33 million contract.
Next, he thought long and hard about fulfilling the first year of that deal as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world.
“I mean, I took a hard look at the possibility of opting out,’’ Castonzo said. “Obviously, you want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
“But after seeing all the precautions that are in place and weighing things out, it made sense to go forward with the season and see what happens. We’ve got a good team, and it’s an exciting season. So that’s something I want to be a part of.’’
The NFL and players’ union have put in place extensive safety procedures as training camps have opened across the country. Initially, players had to have three negative tests before even being allowed into the team facility. They subsequently will be tested on a daily basis for at least the next two weeks.
As of Sunday, 84 players had been placed on the Reserve-COVID-19 list; several have been cleared to return to the active roster. Forty players have chosen to opt out of the 2020 season, including eight New England Patriots.
The Colts haven’t had a player opt out – the deadline is expected to be at the end of this week – and placed two on the COVID-19 list: wideout Malik Henry and cornerback Jackson Porter.
Castonzo, who turns 32 Sunday, insisted he’s been “taking this very seriously from the day that news broke.
“Actually, physicals the other day were a little bit stressful for me because it was the first time I was around any number of people for like five months. I’m just going to continue to do that with my family as well – just mitigate risk as much as possible and hope for the best.’’
Castonzo added his “significant other’’ will be joining him in Indy soon.
The overriding issue is constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation.
“You keep your ear to the ground and seeing how things are progressing,’’ Castonzo said. “Because of all the precautions that we have here where everybody is getting tested every day . . . it is kind of a safe zone almost. But I mean, we still take all the precautions in here – wearing masks and keeping our distance.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can in the building, but I think the biggest thing is just guys kind of doing what they have to outside the building. Obviously, as the cases rise it becomes a little bit more risky outside the building, so people have to do what we’re supposed to do, do what the CDC is telling us to do and limit risk outside of the building so this building can remain that safe zone that it is and we can move forward with the season.’’
All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard was itching to get back into the facility.
“I couldn’t wait to show up for work,’’ he said. “I’m a man of energy. I hate to sit still. These past few months I’ve been sitting at home taking care of the little one and being out in the country.’’
There was no chance Leonard was going to opt out.
“I can just speak for myself,’’ he said. “I just know what I love to do and what I want to do. Just have to continue to social distance, wash your hands, wear a mask, everything that the world is asking.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.