INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The hope was Anthony Castonzo’s ailing right hamstring would improve to the point the Indianapolis Colts’ starting left tackle could see some action in the preseason.
That’s highly unlikely.
Now, the goal is for Castonzo to be cleared for practice no later than the week leading up to the Sept. 9 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“I don’t know exactly how far away I am, but I’m feeling good,’’ Castonzo said Wednesday. “I got on the field a little bit today and it felt really good. Progress, that’s all I can say.
“I’m hoping to be out there sooner rather than later.’’
The idea of not making his eighth straight opening-day start is unfathomable to Castonzo.
“It would have to be a catastrophe for me not to be (in the lineup),’’ he said.
The 2011 first-round draft pick and long-time offensive line anchor admitted it would be ideal to get some full-speed repetitions in the preseason. Failing that, it’s critical to endure a full week of practice heading into the Bengals game.
“As long as I have some practice under my belt,’’ Castonzo said. “I can’t go out there and just go onto the game field for the first time.
“Do I feel like I need to feel that (preseason)? I think I can go out there and play as long as I have some practice under my belt, some full-speed practice. Once I get in there I think I’ll be taking every single one-on-one (rep) that I can in practice. That’s what (you are) at left tackle, one-on-one.
“As long as I get a lot of those, I think I’ll be good to go.’’
Availability has been an earmark of Castonzo’s seven-year career. He’s missed only seven of a possible 118 starts. He remained in the starting lineup last season for the week 9 trip to Houston despite missing the entire week of practice with a knee injury.
This preseason has been marred by a hamstring that Castonzo first injured while working out on his own in mid-July. He opened training camp on the non-football injury list, gained medical clearance Aug. 1 and joined practice, then aggravated the injury two days later.
Castonzo’s availability for the opener is crucial. Without him, the Colts have started Joe Haeg and Le’Raven Clark at left tackle in the two preseason games.
Several players returned to the practice field Wednesday, including offensive tackle Denzelle Good (hamstring), wideouts T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) and Krishawn Hogan (ankle), defensive end Kemoko Turay (knee) and center Deyshawn Bond (concussion).
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.