ESPN's AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky is reporting today that the Colts have moved rookie LT Anthony Castonzo and LG Joe Reitz into the first team on the unofficial depth chart:
#Colts move LT Anthony Castonzo and LG Joe Reitz to first team on unofficial depth chart, ahead of Jeff Linkenbach and Jacques McClendon.
Personally, I'm ecstatic to hear this.
Anthony Castonzo was the Colts' first round draft pick at number 22 overall, in order to protect Manning's blindside this season. He and fellow rookie Benjamin Ijalana need to be starting this season if the Colts want their run game and pass protection to improve from last year's debacle. The news that Castonzo has started working with the first team in practice was also confirmed by 18to88 correspondent Nick Pease:
@espn_afcsouth well this jives with what I just saw this morning ... I like it ... but will costanzo be ready for week 1?
Nick brings up a great point.
While Colts' fans desperately want Castonzo to start at left tackle on September 11, the Colts need to make sure he's ready first. Jeff Linkenbach is a solid stopgap at left tackle, and impressed me more at the position than Charlie Johnson did last year. He is able to step up to the plate if need be. Nevertheless, the fact that the Colts have the confidence in Castonzo to have him with the first team now is certainly encouraging. The real test will be the next preseason game, if Castonzo does actually start for it.
As far as Reitz is concerned, he must really be impressing the coaches. McClendon performed fairly well in the first preseason game, Reitz must be shooting up quickly in order to leap frog him. So, as it stands now, the first team OL would be: Castonzo, Reitz, Jeff Saturday, Mike Pollak, and Ryan Diem.This certainly would be an improvement in the run game from last season, but the pass protection still needs to be seen.
However, Nick Pease tweeted me saying that the Colts practiced with Diem at RG this morning, and Linkenbach at RT. That lineup hasn't been confirmed by the Colts as the first team, but it is an interesting bit of info. The next step is for Benjamin Ijalana to get into the lineup at right tackle. Diem was a turnstile there last season, and desperately needs replacing.