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
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