The 2012 Colts' offensive line is going to be a completely different from the patch-up job the Colts have had over the last few years.
It has been anyone's guess who will man the guard spots, with Anthony Castonzo, Samson Satele, and Winston Justice all seemingly entrenched in their respective spots. According to a new report from the good folks at Pro Football Weekly, the left guard will be left up to a competition between Joe Reitz and Ben Ijalana, both of whom have struggled with nagging injuries.
Reitz' first real year as a starter was last season, and he played reasonably well in nine games (injured for the other seven), making the left side of the line fairly strong, both in run blocking and pass protection with rookie Anthony Castonzo. Ijalana missed the majority of his rookie season with a knee injury, but looked good in limited time at left tackle against Tampa Bay.
According to the report, the coaches have also praised Jeff Linkenbach, who was terrible as a starting right tackle in 2011, ranked 70th out of 76 starting tackles by Pro Football Focus in 2011. However, as a backup, Linkenbach has the ability to temporarily fill in at either tackle position, as he did in 2010 with some effectiveness. I would guess that Linkenbach will stick on the roster with a spot as a backup tackle.
As for the rest of the line, we'll see how it plays out in training camp, but it looks like Mike McGlynn will start at right guard. I'm not sold on McGlynn as a player, but he's reportedly shown great leadership during his limited time with the team, a value that should not be undersold. Castonzo, Satele, and Justice should fill out the rest of the line at their respective positions.
I am curious how any line decisions or impressions can be made during OTAs and mini camp as no real contact is allowed.
I also always hesitate to make offensive line judgements as what the hell do I know. But to my untrained eye, it sure did seem that Reitz was a diamond in the rough for the Colts.
PFW has no source (even a "according to insiders within the Colts organization") to back up their assertions. I would pay just as much credence to the comments of this blog. Personally, I only see Constanzo and Satele as locks on the line. The others have big question marks. Reitz, Ijalana, and Justice are my front runners for the other spots. However, lots could happen between now and game one, and I can easily see scenarios where at least one of the three do not start.
@rebuild2012 No specific source is listed, but the report was part of PFW's "Way We Hear It" section, which are generally based on things they hear from around the league. I would pay credence to it, but like everything else that gets asserted at this time of year, take it with a grain of salt. It makes sense though based on what the attitude has been out of the organization.
I'm really hoping PFW is just blowing smoke, like most of their line statistics. Reitz was VERY successful as LG, like to the point of being the de facto LG without question. Ijalana was dominating against Tampa Bay at Left Tackle, and with his build should be even better at Right Tackle, so moving him to the left side of the line makes little sense. McGlynn and Justice have both been liabilities for previous teams, so both of them becoming presumptive starters for no apparent reason is worrying. Linkenbach performed better at Left Tackle than Right Tackle and was even a bit better in aggregate numbers than Castonzo, and is built as an edge protector, not a physical beast. In a perfect world Linkenbach would be the backup LT, and Ijalana would be the starting RT, but teams are not immune to stupid decisions. Kyle DeVan was on par with what Reitz did last year at Guard, but was released while Pollak, who continued to be a major liability was retained and handed another starting position.
Coaches see more of the players than fans do, but when they are removing higher tier players for much more questionable players, you've got to start questioning the decision making of some of these guys.
@Jake I wouldn't say "no apparent reason" we really do not know what everyone has shown so far in OTAs and mini camp, but it is not really that big a issue, a lot of stuff will get figured out in training camp, this is how it always seems to happen.
At the very least it seems like we'll have some experienced depth for a change. I thought Reitz played well, all things considered. Between he and Ben, maybe we'll get 16 games out of them. I don't know a lot about McGlynn except for what I've read, and that's not too stellar.
Well that is a surprise, there seems to be a lot of interesting storylines coming for training camp.
Well, none of us figured that Ijalana would be playing at tackle immediately, especially given his injury absences last season. Still, I do wonder if he's going to be pigeonholed as a guard for the remainder of his Colts career, or if he'll get shots at playing tackle down the road. This year is too early to force him back into that slot save for occasional spot relief, but it's not out of the question for next year, depending on how he develops.