INDIANAPOLIS — The evaluating process for the Indianapolis Colts' offensive linemen in 2016 can pretty much be split into two halves — the first half of the season, and the second half of the season.
The first half wasn't exactly pretty, as Andrew Luck became the most sacked quarterback in the league. But the second half saw a much better performance in pass protection up front, as well as a group leading the way for a 1,000-yard rusher in Frank Gore.
Whatever your evaluation is of the Colts' offensive line in 2016, one factor remained pretty consistent throughout the entire season: injuries. The team never really was able to put out what it might consider its top offensive line for more than a couple weeks at a time due to various injuries that eventually took their toll and led to playing time for a couple reserves.Here's a position-by-position review of the play of the Colts' offensive linemen in 2016.Left tackle
One position that did not see any sort of change along the offensive line for the Colts in 2016 was at left tackle, where Anthony Castonzo started and played all 16 games for the fourth time of his career.
The sixth-year Boston College product blocked for a Colts offense that ranked tied for fifth in the NFL in passing yards per game (262.6), seventh in points scored (397) and 10th in yards per game (364.4).
Castonzo was also the Colts' highest-graded offensive lineman this season by Pro Football Focus, earning a 84.2 overall, and particularly excelling in run blocking.Left guard
A healthy Jack Mewhort is a very good Jack Mewhort.
But, unfortunately for Mewhort and the Colts, the third-year left guard was unable to shake multiple injuries throughout the 2016 season, and he was eventually placed on IR by Dec. 12.
In all, Mewhort started all 10 games he played at left guard, and helped open rushing lanes for running back Frank Gore, who logged the team's first 1,000-yard rushing season dating back to 2007.
Mewhort's season almost didn't even get started, as he suffered what first appeared to be a serious knee injury in the Colts' third preseason game; but he was able to get back onto the field by Week 1 of the regular season. By mid-October, however, Mewhort had suffered a triceps injury, one that caused him to miss Weeks 7-9.
In the Colts' Week 14 game against the Houston Texans, however, he suffered yet another serious knee injury, one that put him on the shelf for the rest of the season.
Jonathan Harrison, who had been playing center for the Colts prior to 2016, got most of the reps at left guard for the remainder of the season in Mewhort's place.Center
When you take an offensive lineman in the first round of the draft, that player is usually expected to be able to start right away for your football team.
That was certainly the case for the Colts and center Ryan Kelly, who was taken 18th overall out of Alabama in last year's NFL Draft.
Kelly was instantly inserted as the team's starting center, and he would go on to start all 16 games for the team in his rookie season. He was one of 11 rookies to start all 16 games in 2016.
Kelly was solid in his rookie year, as he did not allow a single sack, and he earned a grade of 83.1 in pass protection from Pro Football Focus.Right guard
The Colts certainly liked what they saw out of Denzelle Good throughout the offseason program, and by training camp and the preseason, he had won the starting right guard spot.
But, like others along the offensive line, injuries would break up his 2016 season. He suffered a back injury early, missing Weeks 3 and 4, and then a concussion would keep him out of the lineup in Weeks 13-14. He would participate, but not start, in the final two games of the season.
Starting in his place was Joe Haeg, who, along with Kelly, was one of the top-performing rookies for the Colts in 2016. Haeg not only got starts at right guard, but he also filled in when needed at left guard and right tackle, becoming the first rookie to start three positions along the offensive line since Kyle Turley in 1998.Right tackle
Just like at the left and right guard positions, injuries would be the theme at right tackle, particularly for original starter Joe Reitz.
Reitz, 31, suffered through some back issues throughout 2016, and played in 14 games in all, with six starts at right tackle for the Colts.
Other options at right tackle were Haeg (six starts) and rookie Le'Raven Clark, who started the final three games of the season at the position. Also getting a spot start Week 4 was another rookie, Austin Blythe.Other notes
So, for those keeping track, the Colts had nine total offensive linemen make at least one start throughout the 2016 season (Castonzo, Mewhort, Haeg, Harrison, Kelly, Good, Blythe, Clark and Reitz).Number to remember
89: The number of games Anthony Casonzo has played — and started — during his six-year NFL career.
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