Colts’ will be without Anthony Castonzo, Braden Smith at Pittsburgh

Sports

Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo (74) warms up before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Green Bay Packers, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

INDIANAPOLIS – An already difficult challenge just increased for the Indianapolis Colts.

Anthony Castonzo has been downgraded from questionable to out for Sunday’s critical road test against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The veteran left tackle had been dealing with a sprained right knee – he played through that injury the last two games – but suffered an ankle injury in Thursday’s practice.

The Colts’ offensive line already was dealing with the loss of right tackle Braden Smith, who was placed on the league’s reserve/COVID-19 list Friday.

Coach Frank Reich said Friday the team had considered its various options while waiting on word of Castonzo’s availability.

“We’ve gone through all the scenarios with Chaz (Green), Will Holden and all the other combinations that we have,’’ he said. “We have a Plan A, B and C depending on how things shake out on Sunday as far as AC and his continuing status.

“It is already all planned out. We will just have to see how it plays out for Sunday.’’

None of the options are ideal. The Steelers are mired in a three-game losing streak, but still feature a defense that leads the NFL with 47 sacks and are adept at using different blitz schemes to confuse offensive lines.

In response to losing Castonzo and Smith, the team elevated guard Jake Eldrenkamp and tackle J’Marcus Webb to the active roster from the practice squad.

It won’t be a surprise if Webb steps in at one of the tackle spots. He brings the most experience with 95 appearances and 73 starts in nine seasons. He started the 2018 opener for the Colts at right tackle before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury and started eight of 14 games last season for Miami.

Green has started seven of 13 games over the last six seasons, but his last start was in 2018 with the Raiders. He has struggled at left tackle this season when pressed into action by injuries to Castonzo and backup Le’Raven Clark.

Green’s inability to play at an acceptable level when Castonzo temporarily left the Raiders game two weeks ago resulted in the Colts moving left guard to tackle until Castonzo returned.

Holden, meanwhile, has appeared in 12 games with seven starts during his four-year career.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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