INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo today spoke to the media via video conference. What did he have to say about ultimately deciding to play in 2020 despite concerns about COVID-19, why he wants his teammates to lean on a talented Indy offensive line, his first impressions of Philip Rivers and more?
You catch catch that entire session above, but here are a few main takeaways:
» The COVID-19 pandemic gave Castonzo reason to reconsider playing this season, but he feels confident in the plan that's in place: Like every other NFL player, Castonzo has the option to opt out of playing this season if they have any concerns at all about the way the COVID-19 virus could affect him, or those close to him. While dozens of players have taken that route already Castonzo, like the rest of his teammates, ultimately decided to give it a go after taking the team's and the league's plan into consideration.
"I mean, I took a hard look at the possibility of opting out," Castonzo said. "Obviously, you want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. But after seeing all the precautions that are in place and weighing things out, it made sense to go forward with the season and see what happens.
"We've got a good team and it's an exciting season," he continued. "So, that's something I want to be a part of."
Castonzo said the Colts and the league are taking every precaution they can to get the season started on time.
"Obviously, we are all kind of keeping our ear to the ground and seeing how things are progressing, because of all the precautions that we have here where everybody is getting tested every day it is kind of like you have to count on once you enter this building, it is kind of a safe zone almost," he said. "But, I mean, we still take all the precautions in here — wearing masks and keeping our distance. We're doing everything we possibly can in the building, but I think the biggest thing is just guys kind of doing what they have to outside of the building. Obviously, as cases rise it becomes a little bit more risky outside the building.
"So people have to do what we're supposed to do, do what the CDC is telling us to do and limit risk outside of the building so this building can remain that safe zone that it is and we can move forward with the season."
» Castonzo wants his teammates to really lean on the offensive line this year: Thanks to the continuity and talent up front, the Colts once again enter the season with one of the best offensive line units in the league in 2020.
With Castonzo at left tackle, Quenton Nelson at left guard, Ryan Kelly at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Braden Smith at right tackle — a group that has absolutely dominated at times since that lineup first took the field together in Week 6 of the 2018 season — there's not much this offense can't do if the guys up front take care of business.
"I think we want to be that group where the team can kind of lean on us because of that reason — because of the continuity, because we are guys that have been around," Castonzo said. "We want to be able to kind of shoulder that responsibility. If things are going great we want to keep it going and if anything is not going great we want people to lean on us and say, 'We need you guys to get it going for us.' We take that responsibility to heart and we are excited about it."
Castonzo has said more than once that this is the most talented offensive line group he's played with now as he enters his 10th NFL season. There are several reasons for that.
"It starts with just having five guys who can all play football really well. That skill level is huge," Castonzo said. "That is the biggest thing. I mean we've got five guys across the board who can really play.
"But yeah, just how seriously we take everything as well in terms of our bodies and staying healthy. I mean there is a reason that we all were able to be on the field as much as we were last year – just taking the offseason seriously," he continued. "Then just the fact that we've been able to be together, kind of knowing what each other is going to do before they do it — having a lot of non-verbal communication. The more that you play with somebody the more that you feel comfortable with them. In order to become a really good offensive line, there has to be a lot of different pieces that fall into place and things seem to be working for us."
» New quarterback Philip Rivers might be 38 years old, but he certainly doesn't give off an "old man" vibe: The Colts went out and signed the free agent Rivers in March after he spent the first 16 seasons of his career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers. Over that time, Rivers, an eight-time Pro Bowler, not only became one of the greatest players to have ever played his position, but definitely one of the more fiery on-field personalities the game has ever seen.
Castonzo said Rivers has taken that fire with him to his new team.
"I feel like every time I talked to him he is like a sixth-grade kid ready to play his first day of football," Castonzo said with a laugh. "That guys loves football more than I think anybody I've ever been around. I think it is going to be a fun season playing with him."
The offensive line was one of the major reasons Rivers decided to sign with the Colts, and he's already made it known to those guys how much he cares about them.
"He loves the O-line," Castonzo said. "He had a group chat going with us O-linemen in the offseason. It was funny. He likes to do the voice messages so we would have like a two-minute voice message of him talking about how hyped he is for the season. It's going to be fun playing with him and I'm excited to see what he brings."
Castonzo said he's been around a good mix of cerebral-type quarterbacks throughout his NFL career with the Colts; he was a rookie during Peyton Manning's final season with the team in 2011, he spanned Andrew Luck's entire career and also has protected the likes of Matt Hasselbeck and Jacoby Brissett.
He says he can already tell Rivers is right up there with the rest of them.
"I think all of the best quarterbacks do that, study and really know what is going on at any moment. I think that is a similar thing that he's got going on," Castonzo said. "Andrew is the closest I've been with that; is like a little kid out there. And as old as Philip is, he's youthful in terms of his energy.
"I haven't been on the field with him yet but just being around him in the locker room and hearing him talk and the messages he gives, he's got that kiddish excitement," Castonzo continued. "I think that is kind of the unique thing that he brings — that he is playing like he is back in middle school playing football."