As I've been saying from Day One this offseason, I was pleasantly surprised with Joe Reitz' play at left guard. While the former basketball player wasn't an All-Pro by any means, he did a more than servicable job, and it was essentially his rookie year. He and Anthony Castonzo formed a very good team on that left side before injuries put a damper on the season for both players.
So, coming into camp I, along with most fans, were shocked to hear that Reitz would be battling for the left guard spot with Jeff Linkenbach, a player who started at right tackle last seasons, and was horrendous at guard in 2010. What was even more shocking was that Linkenbach started camp on the first unit over Reitz!
Nevertheless, I've stated several times that I expect Reitz to win the starting job by the end of training camp, and it appears he is steadily moving toward that goal, taking multiple reps with the first team during Sunday's practice.
One guy's opinion at— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) August 5, 2012
#Colts camp. Looking for Joe Reitz to win LG competition with Jeff Linkenbach. Reitz ton of work with No. 1 unit today
Now, as many have cautioned, making vast assumptions off of one day in training camp, or even a whole week, can be a huge mistake. Nevertheless, we shouldn't be surprised if Reitz quickly becomes the de facto starter at left guard.
For a quick comparison of the two's play at guard:
Linkenbach played three games at right guard in 2010: versus Cincinnati, New England, and San Diego. He allowed 10 pressures (seven hurries, three hits) in those three games. Among qualifying guards, Linkenbach would have been 75th among 81 players to receive snaps at guard in Pro Football Focus' Pass Block Efficiency rating.
Reitz started ten games at left guard in 2011, allowing 12 pressures (two sacks, six hits, and four hurries). Among qualifying guards, Reitz ranked 36th among 76 guards in 2011, tied with Logan Mankins (NE), and ahead of players like ex-Colt Ryan Lilja (KC), Jahri Evans (NO), and Chris Snee (NYG). (FWIW, new teammate Mike McGlynn ranked 50th on the list)
Remember, Linkenbach was blocking for Peyton Manning, a quarterback who is famous for his pocket presence and quick release. Reitz blocked for Kerry Collins, Dan Orlovsky, and Curtis Painter.
I have always been hesitent to second guess coaches about who is playing, as they are the ones watching every practice and countless amount of film. (The exception being Gilbert Gardner.)
Still, it has almost seemed like there was an ingrained bias against all Colts linemen (besides Castonzo) that were holdovers. Like the way the previous administration had constructed the line was so different from what Grigson wants that there is no way any of them is worth keeping. (At least not in the same place they had been playing.) Really glad to hear that Reitz seems to be rising to the occassion.