Not only are the Indianapolis Colts down their starting quarterback as Carson Wentz recovers from foot surgery but All-Pro Quenton Nelson coincidentally had the same procedure done the day after and is out for the same timeline. Now, the team has to find a replacement.
General manager Chris Ballard made it a point to add some depth to the offensive line this offseason, and this is where it may have paid off. There is still a chance Nelson returns for Week 1—he certainly is hungry to do so. But there is also a chance he doesn’t return until closer toward the second half of the season.
Replacing Nelson’s talent and impact isn’t easy. He’s already on a hall of fame trajectory entering his fourth season. The Colts just need to find someone viable until he returns.
The options are pretty clear when it comes to who the most likely replacement will be. As it stands halfway through the second week of training camp practices, veteran Chris Reed will get the call with the first-team offense at left guard.
The Colts signed Reed in free agency to a one-year deal, and it could wind up being their most important signing—outside of maybe Eric Fisher. Reed is a nasty man who imposes his will in the run game via his strength and athleticism. His demeanor fits perfectly into what the offensive line wants.
Zach Hicks of Horseshoe Huddle had a great film breakdown with Reed during the offseason, showing the nasty streak he plays with while also detailing the high level of competition he’s gone against in his career.
With center Ryan Kelly also out due to an elbow injury, second-year Danny Pinter has been working at center in the meantime. The Colts gave Jake Eldrenkamp some run with the first team when Nelson immediately went down, but it was clear Reed is the much better fit.
The Colts are having to do some patchwork on the offensive line because of all the injuries, but having Reed waiting in the wings until Nelson can return will prove to be one of Ballard’s best moves of the offseason.
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