EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Indianapolis Colts have reinforcements coming their way.
It was 10 days ago that the team saw its active roster decimated for its Thursday Night Football matchup against the New England Patriots, but today’s game against the New York Jets should be a different story.
Of the 15 players who were deemed unavailable or emergency options only against the Patriots due to injuries or other issues, eight could very well be back today to take on the Jets.
Perhaps one of the more anticipated returns will be that of left tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Castonzo, who didn’t miss a single offensive snap last season, has missed the Colts’ first five games of 2018 as he has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury. Suffered prior to reporting to training camp, Castonzo has experienced two setbacks in his attempts to return to the field — the most recent of which coming in the week of practice leading up to Indy’s Week 2 matchup against the Washington Redskins.
But Castonzo was a full participant in practice this week leading up to the Jets game, and could be back to his familiar spot at left tackle for the Colts today.
“It’s definitely been a long time coming,” Castonzo told reporters on Thursday. “I haven’t played a lot of football in a long time. I’m definitely excited to get out there on a game field.”
Castonzo should start for an offensive line that will feature a different overall look today, as Mark Glowinski is expected to get his first start of the season at right guard, while Braden Smith is expected to start his second straight game at right tackle.
Other expected lineup changes today: Chester Rogers gets the start once again for the injured T.Y. Hilton at wide receiver, while veteran Mike Mitchell will not only make his Colts debut today, but he's expected to start at safety in place of Clayton Geathers. Hassan Rigdeway and Grover Stewart could also start in place of the injured Denico Autry and Margus Hunt along the defensive line.
Return of the Mack
Castonzo shouldn’t be the only player returning from a pesky hamstring injury today.
Running back Marlon Mack suffered his injury in the Colts’ preseason opener on Aug. 9 and was able to return in time to start Week 2 against the Redskins, but suffered a setback of his own in that game and has been out since.
But Mack, like Castonzo, was a full participant in all three practices this week, and head coach Frank Reich is excited about what both Mack and Castonzo could provide for the offense.
“I think it will be a good boost and yeah, they should be ready to go barring any crazy thing happening,” Reich said. “But they will be ready to go. It should be a good boost. Obviously, two really good players - looking forward to getting them back in the starting lineup.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Colts could see the return of four starters today.
Cornerbacks Nate Hairston (ankle) and Kenny Moore II (concussion) and linebackers Darius Leonard (ankle) and Anthony Walker (concussion) should be good to go after either missing the Week 5 matchup against the Patriots entirely, or suffering their injuries during that game and not returning.
Another key cornerback, Quincy Wilson, could also make his return to the field today for the first time since suffering a concussion Week 2 against Washington.
Ridgeway, who also has not played since suffering a calf injury Week 2, is expected to start in place of Autry (hamstring), who is one of seven players on the team’s inactives list for today’s game. The others are tight end Jack Doyle, Geathers, Hilton, Hunt, tackle/guard Denzelle Good and cornerback Arthur Maulet.
Some other players with injuries to keep an eye on today for the Colts: tight end Eric Ebron (shin/quadricep/ankle/knee), center Ryan Kelly (calf) and Mitchell (pectoral). All three were listed as questionable on Friday.