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Colts forced to shake up offensive line after Joe Haeg injury

By
Phillip B. Wilson, The Sports Xchange
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) leaves the field after the Colts defeated the Washington Redskins on September 16, 2018 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) leaves the field after the Colts defeated the Washington Redskins on September 16, 2018 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Once again, the Indianapolis Colts are shuffling their offensive line.

Right tackle Joe Haeg is expected to miss at least two weeks with an ankle injury, head coach Frank Reich said Monday in a conference call. That means the Colts (1-2) will be looking at their third different offensive line combination of the season when they host the Houston Texans (0-3) on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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Haeg was injured when he was rolled up on from behind by running back Jordan Wilkins during the Colts' 20-16 loss Sunday at Philadelphia. He tried to return, but was eventually replaced by Denzelle Good, who played 28 snaps.

Reich was asked specifically for an update on three starters -- left tackle Anthony Castonzo, tight end Jack Doyle and running back Marlon Mack -- each of whom didn't play on Sunday.

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"We will evaluate that as we go this week," he said. "The reports are they are making good progress, but we'll have to see when we come to Wednesday."

The Colts have been fortunate to have Haeg, a third-year pro who can play anywhere on the line. He started the opener at left tackle for Castonzo, who has yet to make his season debut because of a hamstring injury. Le'Raven Clark has started the last two games at left tackle.

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Good was sidelined during the preseason by a hamstring injury, then got hurt again when he played one game and was out for a few weeks with knee and wrist injuries.

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J'Marcus Webb started the season opener at right tackle but suffered a hamstring injury in the final minute and was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

Two other options are rookie Braden Smith and Mark Glowinski, although their natural positions are at guard. Smith is a second-round pick who shuffled in at tackle during the preseason.

Reich accentuated the positives from a tough road loss to the defending Super Bowl champions. His team has led in the fourth quarter of each game, but his team could have had a larger advantage than 16-13 against the Eagles had it not settled for three Adam Vinatieri field goals in the red zone.

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"I really like a lot of things about this team, the heart and soul of this team," Reich said. "Some of the things we are showing on the field are really good signs. We just have to play a little bit better, make some plays, put players in position to make plays and win these close games.

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"But going in there on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs, it was a tough, tough call. This week though against Houston -- back home. We've got the hometown crowd, go in here with a lot of juice and get ready for a division opponent."

Offensive struggles were most evident as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had just 165 yards passing with a 40 percent completion average and a career-low 4.1 yards per attempt. He's failed to pass for more than 180 yards in the last two starts.

"It's about better execution, more consistency," said Reich, who calls the plays. "Whenever you look -- any team goes through the same thing when you have a day that is subpar in a phase. You look, and this game was no different, and it was just one thing here and one thing there. I mean, I could literally -- and I won't -- run down 10 plays where one little thing here and it's a big play. Or this play was a good play and could've been better or this play was bad and could've been good.

"But we don't make excuses. We learn from it. We accept the responsibility for a call that was made, for a play that was made and we just have to be more consistent. Some of it honestly is a credit to their defense. We were playing a really good defense on the road in a place where -- I think I saw before going in there that they gave up 13 points a game in that stadium [last year]. They're tough to beat in that stadium. I thought we gave them all they could ask for and had an opportunity at the end but just came up a little short."

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NOTES:

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LB Darius Leonard had 13 tackles and two sacks one week after being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week and Pepsi Rookie of the Week. Leonard's 41 total tackles lead the NFL by seven. Since 1994, only Leonard and Pat Angerer have had 41 tackles through the first three games of a season for the Colts. It also ties Leonard for fourth in NFL history, trailing just Ray Lewis (44), London Fletcher (43) and Zach Thomas (43).

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PK Adam Vinatieri's next field goal will set an NFL record. His three kicks on Sunday tied Morten Andersen (565) for the most in a career. Vinatieri's 11 points pushed his career total to 2,511, 33 shy of Andersen for the distinction of the NFL's all-time leading scorer.

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QB Andrew Luck has thrown a touchdown pass in 26 consecutive games, the league's longest active streak.

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DE Margus Hunt leads the league with eight tackles for loss. He had his third sack of the season when he forced a Carson Wentz fumble and recovered it in the third quarter. Hunt, in his second season after spending four years as a backup with Cincinnati, had 2.5 career sacks entering 2018. The forced fumble and recovery were also the first of his career.

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The Colts' 10 sacks tie for third in the league this season. Last year, they had just 25, which ranked 31st. Their five sacks against the Eagles were the most since Dec. 18, 2016.

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DE Kemoko Turay, a second-round pick, had 1.5 sacks, the first of his young career.

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WR Ryan Grant, signed to a one-year contract in the offseason after playing four seasons for Washington, caught his first touchdown pass of the year on a 5-yard reception in the first quarter. He has 13 receptions for 124 yards, the best start to a season in his career.

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CB Arthur Maulet was claimed off waivers (from New Orleans) and the Colts released RB Christine Michael, who had nine yards on two carries as a backup.

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OT Rees Odhiambo and CB Lenzy Pipkins were signed to the practice squad while OT Will Holden and CB Tarvarus McFadden were released from the practice squad.

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The Colts will honor LB Edwin Jackson, who was killed in a traffic accident on Feb. 4, at Sunday's game. Players will wear an "EJ" helmet decal with coaches wearing lapel pins bearing the same design. The team will also present Jackson's family with a $25,000 donation to the Edwin Jackson 53 Foundation, which was established to celebrate his life and accomplishments. Jackson also will be honored with a video tribute and in the game day program.

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