INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The uncertainty hovering over the availability of Anthony Castonzo and the possible ripple effect with the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line won’t clear prior to the kickoff of Sunday’s opener with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The veteran left tackle was limited for a third straight day due to a hamstring injury and is listed as questionable on the NFL’s Friday injury report.
Coach Frank Reich wouldn’t offer anything resembling clarity – one way or the other – during his Friday afternoon’s press conference. That was understandable since it’s better to keep the Bengals guessing than provide them with information.
In coach-speak, it’s called maintaining a competitive advantage.
Did Castonzo practice Friday?
“He was limited in practice today,’’ Reich said.
Did he take any repetitions in team drills?
“He was limited in practice,’’ Reich said.
Might the decision on whether he plays linger into weekend?
“Sometimes it can go into Saturday,’’ he said. “We’re never going to pin ourself down to say, ‘Never.’ Obviously it’s always a case-by-case example.
“You can wait a little bit longer with veterans. It is fluid.’’
No one should question the preoccupation with whether Castonzo is able to make an eighth straight opening-day start. He’s been an offensive line mainstay since being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft.
If the hamstring injury keeps Castonzo on the sideline, the offensive line might experience a significant shift on the edges.
Joe Haeg is the right tackle on the depth chart, but the coaching staff might feel more comfortable moving him to left tackle and inserting veteran J’Marcus Webb at right tackle.
Haeg has started 29 games in his three-year career, but none at left tackle. However, he was the starting left tackle in the preseason opener at Seattle.
Webb was signed in early August to provide training camp depth at tackle when injuries sidelined Castonzo, Denzelle Good and Tyreek Burwell. He has appeared in 80 games with 64 starts with four teams in seven seasons, but was out of the league last year.
To take it a step further, Castonzo’s absence would leave the Colts with an offensive line with more questions than answers.
Remember, left guard Quenton Nelson, despite the post-draft hype befitting the 6th overall pick, is a rookie. And center Ryan Kelly, the 2016 first-round pick, missed nine games last season with injuries, including the final five with a concussion.
More medical matters
Running back Marlon Mack (hamstring) was limited for a second straight practice and is questionable for Sunday’s game. Good (wrist/knee) is out.