Just one week ago, Colts owner Jim Irsay called his team the "most complete" in the NFL. That is about to be tested for a second straight game.
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is done for the season due to an ankle injury that requires surgery, Colts coach Frank Reich told reporters Wednesday.
Castonzo missed Indianapolis' Week 16 meeting with Pittsburgh due to the injury, which he suffered during a late-week practice in the lead-up to the pivotal meeting with the Steelers.
"You feel sick for AC going down like he did in a Thursday practice," quarterback Philip Rivers said of Castonzo on Wednesday, via the Indianapolis Star's Jim Ayello.
Right tackle Braden Smith also missed the game due to placement on the COVID-19 list, which forced Indianapolis to insert tackles Chaz Green and Will Holden and ultimately produced a 28-24 loss to for the Colts. The 28-year-old Green -- most notable for being the tackle who allowed Adrian Clayborn to rack up six sacks in a 2017 game in Atlanta -- played right tackle for the Colts on Sunday, surrendering two sacks to T.J. Watt and four total pressures on 41 pass drops.
Holden was injured during the game, calling into action another backup, veteran J'Marcus Webb. Indianapolis had elevated Webb to the active roster before Sunday's game, just two weeks after signing the 32-year-old to the team's practice squad.
Due to Holden's injury, Green is penciled in as the left tackle for the Colts this week, with Smith returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list to resume his starting role on the right side. The Colts are also expected to sign veteran tackle Jared Veldheer to their practice squad and elevate him for Sunday's game, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported, in a move similar to the one that saw Webb on the field Sunday.
All of this is to say Indianapolis is still very strong on the interior with its starting trio of Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Mark Glowinski, but after Castonzo's season-ending ankle issue and other aforementioned ailments, the Colts are unknown, if not unstable at left tackle. Once seen as Indianapolis' greatest offensive strength, the Colts' line is now 20 percent weaker up front, which is still better than 40 percent when Smith was out.
The good news is the Colts are playing the Jaguars, who don't have their best edge rusher (Josh Allen) because he's on injured reserve, are 1-14 and were just steamrolled by the Bears last week. If there was ever an opponent to choose to face with a line in flux at the most important position, it would be these Jaguars.
The Colts will have to hope, though, that Green plays better than he did in Week 16, or Veldheer is ready to go after less than a week's worth of preparation. We'll learn soon enough on Sunday.