INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Matt Slauson’s reputation followed him to his latest NFL home. The Colts were adding a veteran guard whose toughness and no-nonsense approach would prove instrumental in what would be a young offensive line room.
Slauson took that toughness to the extreme last Thursday against the New England Patriots, and regrets it.
“It wasn’t my smartest moment,’’ he said Wednesday, slowly shaking his head.
Early in the third quarter, Slauson damaged two vertebrae in his back. He felt sensation traveling down his legs, but remained in the game. In fact, he was on the field for all 83 plays.
His stubbornness wasn’t a surprise. Slauson, 32, had started all five games and played all 375 snaps.
“Tough as nails,’’ Frank Reich said.
Just not smart in this instance.
Slauson doesn’t believe surgery will be required – there are more tests to be done – but realizes things could have been so much worse. In a worst-case scenario, taking another hit in a certain way could have resulted in paralysis.
“I’m just very happy and very thankful that nothing more came of it,’’ he said. “I get very upset at myself when I watch the film, just thinking about what could have been.’’
“I had no idea how close I was to changing my family’s life,’’ he told IndyStar.
Slauson’s 10th season ended Monday when the team placed him on the injured reserve list. He signed a one-year, $3 million free-agent contract in March, so his long-term future with the Colts is uncertain.
However, the team values his experience and wants him to continue to interact with his colleagues. Slauson was at practice Wednesday and likely will be for the remainder of the season.
Revolving door still spinning
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: the Colts are turning to yet another different offensive line combination.
The departure of Slauson and anticipated return of Anthony Castonzo means Andrew Luck will play behind a fifth group in six games Sunday against the New York Jets. Castonzo should return to left tackle after missing the first five games with a hamstring injury. Quenton Nelson remains at left guard and Ryan Kelly at center, even though Kelly missed Wednesday’s practice with a calf injury.
The right-side of the line is in flux. Denzelle Good was back in the building but didn’t practice Wednesday after missing the Patriots game to be with his family following the death of his younger brother. He might return to right tackle. If not, Le’Raven Clark, the starting left tackle the last four games, could flip to right tackle and rookie Braden Smith replace Slauson at right guard. Smith made his first career start against New England at right tackle.
“It’s football,’’ Luck said, dismissing the revolving door at offensive line. “We’ve all been there or will be there if you haven’t missed a game because of an injury.
“It’s next man up. That’s the way you have to roll.’’
Slauson is the third offensive lineman lost to IR already this season. He joins Joe Haeg (ankle) and J’Marcus Webb (hamstring). It’s possible Haeg could return later in the season. He has to miss eight games, which means the first game he’s eligible to return is Dec. 2 at Jacksonville.
Long injury list, again
Eleven players, all either starters or top backups, were held out of Wednesday’s practice.
The list of injured Colts: wideout T.Y. Hilton (chest/hamstring), linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle), tight ends Jack Doyle (hip) and Eric Ebron (shin/quad/ankle/knee), safeties Clayton Geathers (concussion/neck), Malik Hooker (back) and Matthias Farley (shoulder/groin/wrist), defensive tackle Denico Autry (hamstring), defensive end Margus Hunt (knee), center Ryan Kelly (calf).
Good was the 11th player who did not practice.
On a more positive note, Castonzo, running back Marlon Mack (hamstring), defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway (calf) and cornerbacks Kenny Moore II (concussion) and Quincy Wilson (concussion) were full participants.
Cornerback Nate Hairston (ankle) and linebacker Anthony Walker (concussion) were limited.
No Hilton, Doyle?
Reich didn’t offer much optimism on Hilton and Doyle being available for the Jets game. He described each as “week to week.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.