INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Frank Reich declined to address whether he’d have his veteran left tackle back as the Indianapolis Colts looked to bounce back from a season-opening loss.
That veteran left tackle erased any doubt.
“I feel good,’’ Anthony Castonzo said prior to Wednesday afternoon’s practice. “I’m excited to have a full week of practice and get out there and play.’’
Play, and start Sunday when the Colts meet the Washington Redskins at FedExField in Landover, Md.?
“Yeah, absolutely. No question,’’ Castonzo said. “I’m full go.’’
Castonzo saw his streak of seven consecutive opening-day starts snapped last Sunday. While the main culprit was an injury to his right hamstring that forced him to miss six weeks, a co-conspirator was a 102-degree temperature that limited his practice time last week.
“I missed out on one-and-a-half practices because I got sick last week. That kind of set me back,’’ Castonzo said. “That was an issue.
“Now, I’m full-go. I’m feeling good. I don’t have to think about (the hamstring), which is nice.’’
Castonzo, who had missed only seven of a possible 118 starts before being inactive in the 34-23 loss to the Bengals, admitted he nearly was cleared to play last Sunday. Everyone, though, decided to err on the side of caution.
“It was extremely close,’’ he said. “I talked it over with the coaches and doctors and it was the risk of me going out there having not really put any load on it would have been a really high risk.’’
Without Castonzo, the Colts flipped right tackle Joe Haeg to the left side and replaced Haeg with veteran journeyman J’Marcus Webb.
Haeg was the first player not named Anthony Castonzo to start at left tackle in Andrew Luck’s career.
“Certainly having Anthony back is a plus,’’ Luck said. “I think he’s elite at what he does. He is an elite left tackle.
“He’s also a great friend of mine, so it’s always good to have your friends back in the huddle. I’m excited for him and I know he’s excited.’’
Castonzo’s return undoubtedly means Haeg returns to right tackle. Webb was placed on the injured reserve list earlier this week after suffering a hamstring injury against the Bengals.
The Colts’ custom of starting different offensive line combinations was assured against the Bengals because of Castonzo’s injury and the offseason additions of rookie left guard Quenton Nelson (draft) and veteran right guard Matt Slauson (free agency).
For those keep track at home, Luck now has played behind 36 different starting lines in his 71 regular-season games. No. 37 comes Sunday against Washington.
Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni pointed out the Colts need to be more efficient in their run game and there were assignment errors by the line.
How was Luck’s protection?
“I am not sure I have ever seen an offensive line pass protect as well as they did,’’ Sirianni said.
On 56 drop-backs, Luck was sacked twice and hit on another seven occasions. He also scrambled for 7 yards to convert a third-and-7 in the first quarter.
“Our O-line did a fantastic job,’’ Luck said. “We didn’t any free rushers. They gave us a chance to win a game. That was awesome.’’
Luck in recovery mode
Overall body soreness reminded Luck he hadn’t played a regular-season game in 20 months. He attempted 53 passes, was sacked twice and absorbed a few other hits in the loss to the Bengals.
“It was interesting,’’ he said. “I forgot what it felt like, sort of the post-game, the next day. “I’ve never been in a serious car wreck thankfully, but I imagine it’s a little bit of that feeling.
“I was sore, man. I felt a couple of those hits. Otherwise, I think I came out fairly clean. I felt like I had juice left in my arm, which I’m excited bout because we did throw a lot.’’
On one play, Bengals end Carlos Dunlap crashed into him and landed on Luck with the full force of his 6-6, 280-pound body. Dunlap was penalized for roughing the passer.
“After one of those hits I was like, ‘OK, am I OK? Is it there? Can I still do this?’’’ Luck said. “But that was really the only time I can remember, which was a relief. Not to be in the back of my mind 100 percent of the time.’’