For the first time in his NFL career, when quarterback Andrew Luck turned around to hand the ball off on the first offensive series, he didn’t see Donald Brown.
Rookie running back Vick Ballard made his first career start on Sunday in place of the injured Brown.
Ballard had 25 yards on eight carries and although he started off the game in the backfield, there wasn’t too much of a change for the Colts fifth round draft pick.
“I don’t think it felt any different because I still got the same amount of plays because of the two-minute (offense) when Mewelde (Moore) got in there,” Ballard said. “I think I had 29 plays so it really wasn’t any different for me other than getting the first series.”
Moore was used primarily on third downs for the Colts and also in the two-minute offense. Second-year running back Delone Carter saw extended playing time in just his second game of the season, carrying the ball four times
With Ballard in the starting lineup, the Colts had four rookies start on Sunday and a total of eight saw action on the offense.
The film room was the place to find Ballard on Monday and he recognized a few teaching points he will take into the Colts meeting with Cleveland this weekend.
“We obviously have to take care of the ball,” Ballard said. “Attention to detail, execution, whenever we do those things, good things will happen. Just going to come to work Wednesday and get ready for next week.”
This was just the second road game for the Colts and although getting the start didn’t seem to be different for Ballard, playing away from home was an adjustment for him.
“I guess you could say crowd noise because sometimes, you know the snap count but you can’t hear it because the quarterback is under center,” Ballard said of the biggest difference.
“You just have to kind of look at the ball. Where as if we are playing at home, you can listen to the quarterback and hear the calls and stuff.”
Ballard now has 29 carries on the season and that number will continue to rise with Brown expected to be out of the lineup again this weekend.
The run production wasn’t where the offense wanted it on Sunday but the guys in front of Ballard appreciate his running style.
“I like the way Vick runs,” offensive guard Jeff Linkenbach said. “He runs downhill. Vick isn’t afraid to just punch it into a hole. We like that as offensive linemen, someone that is willing to just jam it up in there for a few.”
Tags: Delone Carter, Jeff Linkenbach, Mewelde Moore, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
During training camp, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was asked about the importance of developing depth along the offensive line.
“You’ve got to have seven guys and if you think you’re just going to play with five, that doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “That’s Godsend if that ever happens. We went to the Super Bowl with seven offensive tackles and four quarterbacks in Pittsburgh.”
“The next man standing, the next man in line, he jumps in and he plays. There’s no drop off. There’s never an excuse for an injury. If you’re a backup, you’re one of the most valuable players on the team.”
Just two weeks into the regular season, the Colts have experienced every part of what Arians said back in August.
-Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the only penciled in starter who has been at his normal position for each of the first two games.
-At left guard, Seth Olsen has started both games for Joe Reitz (leg).
-At center, Samson Satele left the Vikings game late in the second quarter with a knee injury and was replaced by right guard Mike McGlynn.
-At right guard, when McGlynn slid over to center, newly signed lineman Trai Essex played the final two-plus quarters on Sunday.
-At right tackle, Jeff Linkenbach has been playing there since Winston Justice exited the Bears game with a concussion.
Through eight quarters of the regular season, the Colts have already used seven different players along the offensive line with Reitz still waiting to make his season debut.
Head coach Chuck Pagano talked about his beat up offensive line and their availability come Sunday.
“(Satele) saw the doctor, the MRI came back and it was negative so he’s just got some bone bruising in there but he’ll be day-to-day,” Pagano said. “We anticipate him being available for the game but you never know. If Satele isn’t able to go, then McGlynn will get the nod at center.”
During the 2010 season with the Eagles, McGlynn was the starting center for 14 games after starter Jamaal Jackson went down in the season opener.
“It’s a challenge just because we haven’t worked together and guys are just coming in,” McGlynn said of the ever-changing line. “It’s tough, but there’s not going to be any excuses come Sunday.”
Justice was a full participant at practice on Wednesday and his return to the line would give the Colts another veteran presence to protect Luck.
Tags: anthony castonzo, bruce arians, Jeff Linkenbach, joe reitz, mike mcglynn, Samson Satele, Seth Olsen, Trai Essex, winston justice
Posted in Colts Blog
Heading into the 2012 season, the Colts offensive line was full of question marks. How quickly would the new starters like Winston Justice and Samson Satele gel with Anthony Castonzo and the other returning Colts’ linemen? Could this unit that lacked depth stay healthy enough to keep prize quarterback Andrew Luck healthy?
Already two games into the season, we seem to have an answer to those questions. After struggling against the Chicago Bears in week one, the Colts faced down injury and showed their versatility and their resolve in the 23-20 win against the Minnesota Vikings.
The news wasn’t good to begin the game, with starting right tackle Winston Justice being declared inactive with the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last week. In his place, veteran Jeff Linkenbach stepped up into a starting role he previously held. If the best compliment to an offensive lineman is never hearing your name called, Linkenbach had a successful day. He and the rest of the Colts’ line held the Vikings, one of the NFL’s best units at rushing the passer, to two sacks, one of which was more a result of Andrew Luck holding the ball too long than the line’s inability to protect him.
Leading that effort was second year left tackle Anthony Castonzo. A week after facing the Bears’ Julius Peppers, Castonzo lined up across from the Vikings’ Jared Allen most of the afternoon. The Vikings defensive end already ranks 20th all-time on the NFL’s sack list. Thanks to Castonzo, Allen couldn’t add to that number on Sunday.
After the game, Castonzo was proud of the effort put forth by him and his linemates:
“It’s really awesome to start of the year that way, with two elite pass rushers…I feel like I held my own against both. It’s a great launching pad for the rest of the season.”
On the shift in personnel required by Justice’s injury and Samson Satele going out with a knee injury just before the half, Castonzo said he was confident in the abilities of those pressed into action.
“Next man up is our motto. Somebody gets hurt, the next guy has to come up and do the job.”
One who did two jobs on Sunday was Mike McGlynn. McGlynn started at guard, but when Satele went down, he moved over to center, a position he hadn’t played since a playoff game against Green Bay in 2010 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. McGlynn felt good about his performance, but admitted it was a challenge for him to take over that role in the middle of a game after not getting many reps there during the week.
“It’s a big transition because you have to direct the line, which directs the whole offense. It’s something I’ve always been comfortable with (playing center)…I think I did some good things, but I’m sure I’ll see on film some things that need to get fixed.”
The extent of Satele’s injury is unknown at this time, so it’s unclear whether McGlynn will be back at center next week against Jacksonville. McGlynn’s move to center also brought in newcomer Trai Essex who filled in competently at guard.
Both Andrew Luck and Bruce Arians have to be encouraged by the progress and versatility shown by their offensive line in the Colts’ initial victory of 2012.
Tags: anthony castonzo, Jeff Linkenbach, mike mcglynn, Trai Essex, winston justice
Posted in Colts Blog