INDIANAPOLIS – The decision has been made, but Frank Reich wasn’t in a sharing mood.
How the Indianapolis Colts move on at left tackle without Anthony Castonzo will remain on a need-to-know basis. And, basically, no one outside the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center doesn’t need to know.
“We had a good week of practice,’’ Reich said Friday on a Zoom conference call. “We have a good plan going into the game and feel confident with what we’re going to do in the game.’’
Castonzo underwent season-ending surgery on his right ankle this week, leaving a massive void at left tackle heading into Sunday’s meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts need a win to push their record to 11-5 and some help to earn a playoff berth.
The most likely options at left tackle are sliding All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson into that spot, or inserting recently-signed veteran Jared Veldheer into the starting lineup.
Nelson has started all 49 games at left guard since the Colts selected him with the 6th overall pick in the 2018 draft. However, he took eight snaps at left tackle in the Colts’ week 14 game in Las Vegas against the Raiders when Castonzo started but temporarily left the game.
Reich acknowledged Nelson took some left-tackle reps with the starting offense this week, and the team would be more than confident if he starts at a new position against the Jaguars.
“Quenton did get some reps at left tackle and looked good out there,’’ Reich said. “He’s just a unique player. To do something like that, first of all, it only takes a skillset but it takes a mindset and Quenton has the kind of mindset that can do something like that.’’
Veldheer also is in the mix. The Colts lured him out of retirement after discovering the severity of Castonzo’s injury.
Veldheer, 33, has appeared in 120 games, with 113 starts, during a 10-year career that spanned Oakland, the Arizona Cardinals, Denver and Green Bay. Last season, he also came out of retirement, signed with the Packers in December and started their two playoff games at right tackle to replace injured Bryan Bulaga.
“Jared came in and looked like we thought he would look,’’ Reich said. “The guy’s a seasoned pro, a guy who’s kept himself in good shape. Everybody says they’re in good shape when they walk in the door, but I think we were able to ascertain that he is in good shape and you could tell from the communication between the o-linemen, watching them practice . . . that, ‘Hey, this guy’s been around the block a few times and knows what he’s doing.’’’
The defense will be without two starters Sunday. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and safety Khari Willis have been ruled out with concussion issues.
Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner didn’t practice this week with a lingering ankle injury, but will play. The team was committed to giving his ankle as much rest as possible.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.