One of the highlights for the Colts of an otherwise forgettable 2016 season was the progression of the offensive line. Thanks to the additions of rookies Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg, the much-maligned unit seemed to finally make some progress.
Entering 2017, we thought we'd see more steps forward from the offensive line, but it appears they've taken a step back instead. Here is Sunday's starting offensive line compared to the line that we thought the Colts had available a few months ago:
There are things that aren't surprising - Deyshawn Bond taking over for the injured Ryan Kelly at center - and others that are - where's Joe Haeg? Let's go through them...
- Jeremy Vujnovich, who spent most of the preseason at tackle, is now your starting left guard. Vujnovich has only played in two NFL games, spending most of his career on the Packers and Colts practice squads.
- Bond, who will replace Kelly, is an undrafted free agent. and will be starting his first NFL game on Sunday.
- Mewhort has spent most of his career at left guard, and even though he has played on the right side as a tackle, he has never started at right guard before.
- Denzelle Good was primarily the starting right guard in 2016 with ten starts, and hasn't started at tackle since his rookie season.
- It's pretty shocking that Haeg isn't starting. While he dealt with a shoulder issue this offseason, it wasn't enough to limit him to the point where he's not one of the team's five best linemen. He started 14 of 15 games as a rookie, moving around to three different line spots.
So, to summarize, if this depth chart holds to form, only the two tackles - Castonzo and Good - will have starting experience at their spot on Sunday. Mewhort (never started at right guard), Vujnovich (never started, period), and Bond (NFL debut) will all be newbies.
Pagano explaine they used the current lineup in the preseason finale and in the final days of Training Camp, and that he's still searching for the right "starting five".