Every once in awhile, however, something jumps out of the box score that demands attention.
The Colts’ first two games offered up two of the most feared pass-rushers in the NFL: Chicago’s Julius Peppers and Minnesota’s Jared Allen, who have combined for 11 Pro Bowls in their careers, not to mention 33 sacks last season.
And yet neither registered so much as a quarterback hit, let alone a sack, on Andrew Luck.
Step up to the microphone, Anthony Castonzo.
The rock in an ever-changing offensive line, the young left tackle is showing signs of emerging as a strong protector of Luck’s blind side – in other words, the guy they thought they drafted last year at No. 22 in the first round.
“I feel pretty good about it. A lot of that also is Andrew moving around. He makes me right a lot of the time, which is nice,” he said. “I definitely could’ve played better in both of those games but looking at the stat sheet, that is pleasing.”
Injuries have caused a revolving door at the other four positions. Projected left guard Joe Reitz has yet to play, with Seth Olsen starting twice. Center Samson Satele missed most of last week’s victory over Minnesota with a bone bruise in his knee. His status for Sunday’s home game against Jacksonville is uncertain. Mike McGlynn moved from right guard to center when Satele went down, opening the door for newcomer Trai Essex to step in. Winston Justice was out last Sunday with a concussion, replaced at right tackle by Jeff Linkenbach.
“It is good that I’ve been able to stay out there and stay healthy, knock on wood. It’s a blessing,” Castonzo said. “It seems like every time somebody comes in they’re ready to play and they do a good job. Regardless whoever’s on the offensive line I think we’re going to have good chemistry.”
The 6-7, 315-pound Castonzo started 12 games as a rookie and experienced mixed results. He wasn’t called for any holding penalties but was victimized for six sacks. He battled ankle and foot problems last year but has come back strong this year.
“I think he’s playing excellent,” Coach Chuck Pagano said. “I think he’s doing one heck of a job, both in the run game, he’s a hammer in the run game, and coming off the injury he knocked the rust off early and he’s doing a great job in pass protection.”
This week brings a different challenge. Jacksonville does not feature a dominant sack artist but does have a very physical front seven. The challenge will be not only to protect Luck, but find a way to make some room for the running game.
The Colts have not been effective on the ground thus far, totaling 147 yards and averaging 3.3 per carry.
“Regardless what it says on the stat sheet when I watch the film I know what I need to work on,” Castonzo said, “so going into the next game I can definitely play better than I have but that’s definitely a good way to start.”
NOTES: Pagano said Satele’s MRI was negative and he is officially listed as day to day. “We anticipate him being available for the game,” Pagano said, “but you never know.” … Justice and wide receiver Austin Collie (concussion) practiced Wednesday and both will be monitored by team physicians. … Rush linebacker Dwight Freeney is listed as day to day with an ankle sprain.