INDIANAPOLIS — Heading into the start of the week, Anthony Castonzo was hoping to be able to say that only a catastrophe could keep him from playing in Sunday's 2018 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
But when his temperature promptly hit 102 degrees early in the week, Castonzo feared that catastrophe was, indeed, playing out.
Fortunately for the Indianapolis Colts' left tackle, his fever broke and he was able to return to the practice field on Wednesday for the first time since re-aggravating a hamstring injury early on in training camp. On Thursday, he said he was hoping to up the ante even more, participating in some "competitive reps" to potentially prepare him for Sunday's game.
Castonzo, who was officially listed as limited on Thursday, still has to put in another solid practice on Friday before there are any decisions made about his status for the Bengals contest, but, as far as he's concerned, everything's heading in the right direction.
"It felt really good (Wednesday), so that’s why we’re pushing forward today," Castonzo told reporters on Thursday. "I’m still optimistic. ... Basically, I’ve just got to be confident to go on Sunday. Obviously today’s practice is going to be very big; tomorrow’s practice is going to be big, too, and then after that gonna be able to kind of see how I feel."
Castonzo has always prided himself on his availability throughout his eight-year NFL career, which was clearly evident last season when he played every offensive snap at left tackle — even playing through some painful nicks and bruises along the way. But his latest injury has been a thorn in his side, keeping him off the field longer than any other previous issue has since he was selected by the Colts in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Castonzo initially suffered his hamstring injury working out on his own during the break between the end of veteran minicamp in June and the start of training camp in late-July, and was placed on the team's Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to begin camp. He was removed after a few days and inserted back into the lineup, but quickly re-aggravated the injury on Aug. 3.
"I’m not sure what happened, because the whole mechanism of how it happened was completely different the second time," Castonzo said. "So I don’t know if it was just some residual weakness or what it was, but, yeah, I mean, I obviously wish that it hadn’t happened the second time — or the first time, for that matter."
They key now for Castonzo is to get his conditioning level back to where it was at the start of training camp, though he said he has no worries about logging 60 offensive snaps in Sunday's game if need be.
Castonzo has remained in-tune with the Colts' new offensive system, and doesn't have any worries about falling behind once he is able to make his full return.
"I will say it’s probably going to be a little bit different just kind of getting into the rhythm with the cadence and kind of getting into the rhythm of playing," he said. "I will say not being out there will take its toll a little bit that way, but ultimately it’s still the same plays."