Uncertain status of veteran Colts lineman means rookies ‘have to be ready’ vs. Jags


Picture from Colts practice

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LONDON – The uncertain status of Joe Reitz and Denzelle Good for Sunday’s meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium not only has pulled a cloud over the right side of the Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line, but also has laid the groundwork for a rookie-heavy look at the position.

In all likelihood, the team’s four rookie offensive linemen will be active: Ryan Kelly, Joe Haeg, Austin Blythe and Le’Raven Clark. And that number could grow to five.

Kelly will start his fourth game at center. Haeg will start a second straight game at right guard, or his first at right tackle if a back issue keeps Reitz out of the lineup. Blythe would be the backup at center and both guard spots while Clark might represent the backup swing tackle.

Considering the dicey situation with Reitz and Good, the team might fill the one open spot on the active roster by signing either rookie guard Adam Redmond or first-year tackle Jeremy Vujnovich off the practice squad.

“They’re all going to have to be ready,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said Friday following his team’s brief workout at The Grove. “It’s a war of attrition with Denzelle and Joe Reitz the way they are. Even when they come back you’re going to get nicked up here and there.’’

Haeg’s versatility is invaluable. The fifth-round draft pick made his first NFL start last Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, but he slid to right tackle after Reitz was forced from the game with his recurring back issue.

“It’s pretty unique for a rookie to be able to do that and make that move in the middle of a game,’’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. “We had to. We didn’t have a lot of choices there, but I think he battled.

“Again, it wasn’t perfect. There were a lot of things that weren’t perfect up front. Overall, I am pleased.’’

Medical update: Cornerback Darius Butler (hamstring), wide receiver Donte Moncrief (shoulder) and offensive lineman Jon Harrison (emergency appendectomy) have been ruled out of Sunday’s game.

Reitz, Good and wide receiver Phillip Dorsett (ankle) are questionable.

No throwing for Luck:

Luck is not listed on the status report despite not throwing and being a limited participant Friday. He also was limited Wednesday but was a full participant Thursday as the team continues to monitor his right shoulder.

Luck said the maintenance plan is “helping me. I feel really good, really fresh, jumping out of my skin in a sense, ready to play.’’

Getting used to London: The team did its research on how teams have best dealt with the dramatic time change associated with playing in London that began with an eight-hour flight from Indy. The team arrived early Friday morning, then went through a light workout a few hours later.

“Everybody tried to get as much sleep as they could on the way over,’’ Pagano said. “Everybody’s done what we’ve asked them to do; getting over here, staying up, not falling asleep. We’ve kept them busy. We encouraged them to stay up the rest of the afternoon, get to bed at 8-9 o’clock and try to get on this time zone.’’

The Colts opted not to take their bye the following week, and we’ll see if that was a wise decision. They are expected to return to Indy by 12:30-1 a.m. Monday.

“Guys will get to bed and come in Monday afternoon and watch tape, grade film,’’ Pagano said. “That’s normal. They’ll be off Tuesday and be back at work on Wednesday.

“If we did the right thing in preparation and continue to do the right thing, we should be fine.’’

The Colts entertain the Chicago Bears Oct. 9 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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