Jim Irsay is generally unafraid to make bold statements, and the longtime Colts owner made another recently by proclaiming the team’s embattled offensive line as “fixed.” Andrew Luck took the second-most hits of any quarterback last season at 128 despite missing a game due to a concussion. The team also allowed the fifth-most sacks with 46. Luck missed nine games in 2015 with a shoulder injury and absorbed plenty of hits before that season-ending malady. And the Colts did not make any big additions this offseason, former Titans starter Brian Schwenke‘s one-year deal notwithstanding.
“Let me say this: The offensive line is fixed,” Irsay said, via Mike Wells of ESPN.com. “I’m telling you guys, the offensive line is fixed. The reason I’ll tell you it’s fixed is because (former Colts offensive line coach) Howard Mudd told me it’s fixed. If Howard Mudd tells you it’s fixed, trust me, it’s fixed.”
The Colts do return an entrenched left side of the line in Anthony Castonzo, Jack Mewhort and Ryan Kelly. Wells projects Joe Haeg to start at right guard and Le’Raven Clark to man right tackle. Irsay added the team may be ready to run more in 2017. Indianapolis did add fourth-round running back Marlon Mack and UFA Christine Michael to join Frank Gore. The Colts ranked 16th with 25.6 rushing attempts per game last season.
“We’ve worked hard to bring in the right type of players (on the offensive line),” Irsay said. “We’re ready to run the football and protect Andrew.”
Here’s the latest news on some other offensive lines, moving first to the Eagles’.
- Jason Peters did not attend the Eagles‘ OTA sessions but will be back for minicamp, Bob Ford of Philly.com notes. Lane Johnson worked at left tackle in the 35-year-old’s stead. Peters will be back with the team despite the Eagles approaching him about a paycut in February and the sides not agreeing on one. Ford notes Johnson is expected to slide over to the left side after Peters’ Philadelphia tenure concludes.
- The Giants‘ tackle situation is not as enviable, but a consensus appears to be forming. Big Blue seems to agree with the Chargers’ coaching staffs of the past two years. D.J. Fluker did not play right tackle during OTAs, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com notes, focusing strictly on guard duty. Even after Bobby Hart was absent during the team’s final OTA sessions, sixth-round rookie Adam Bisnowaty took first-team reps instead of Fluker on the right edge, Raanan writes. Fluker played right tackle during his first two seasons in San Diego, but the Giants are going with Hart — a 2015 seventh-round pick — right now. This means Fluker may have a tougher time auditioning, barring injury, for a long-term contract with the Giants re-signing holdover right guard John Jerry. Fluker is signed to a one-year deal.
- Ben Garland may be ready to stick on one side of the ball this season and will probably see time in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. Used on defense as well during the Falcons‘ NFC championship season, Garland will battle Wes Schweitzer for the right guard job vacated by Chris Chester, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Schweitzer was a sixth-round pick last year who did not suit up as a rookie. Ledbetter notes the 29-year-old Garland may have a slight upper hand going into minicamp. Garland’s previous opportunity to vie for a starting job ended quickly, with the 2015 Broncos bringing in Evan Mathis midway through training camp after Garland worked with Denver’s first-stringers at that camp’s outset. Garland, though, played in all 19 Falcons games last season after spending most of the ’15 season on Atlanta’s practice squad.