INDIANAPOLIS – This isn't at all what Donald Thomas and the Colts had in mind when they joined forces two offseasons ago.
The Colts inked Thomas in the 2013 offseason, looking for a road-grading guard that could pair on the left side of the line with a budding tackle in Anthony Castonzo.
Offensive line was a major offseason priority for GM Ryan Grigson and that's why the Colts not only signed Thomas, but spent two of their first three picks in the 2013 draft on interior linemen.
For Thomas, Indianapolis was a chance to become a full-time starter after starting seven games for the Patriots in 2012.
Thomas looked at Indy as a destination where playoff appearances were commonplace and an opportunity to finally seize a starting role made up the ideal combination.
After 70 snaps of the Colts 2013 season, the scenario that was envisioned by the Colts and Thomas was gone.
A torn biceps injury, along with a torn quad several plays later, ended Thomas' 2013 campaign before he could even reach halftime of Week Two.
"When it happened, I knew it was serious," Thomas said in 2013.
"I still kind of feel like people (think), 'Is he really that good? Is he able to help out with the offense,'" said Thomas. "It was disheartening because I don't want to seem like I'm a letdown or a bust."
After a strenuous rehab, Thomas was present with the starting unit, at the left guard spot, during the Colts 2014 Training Camp.
Chuck Pagano had praised the 303-pound guard for what he had shown early in camp, before the worst nightmare returned.
On a steamy July afternoon in Anderson, Thomas injured himself during 11-on-11 work and one fling of his helmet indicated the severity.
Thomas had re-torn his quad, ending his 2014 season over a month before it was supposed to start.
Just like that, Thomas was back to square one.
Another offseason filled with rehab was on the agenda in 2015.
"That's all it's going to be. Story of my life. Just trying to get back right," Thomas said of his rehab.
If there's a sliver of silver lining in this year's injury, it's that it came a month and a half earlier. Therefore, Thomas is optimistic that he can get back to the level of play the Colts saw in the early stages of 2013.
Training Camp appears to be the target date for Thomas to get back on the field.
"It's just more mental than anything," Thomas said last week. "That's the hardest part. You feel so good coming back and then it's just an all-time low. You really don't believe it at first. Why is this happening to me?
"Some of those things you can't answer yourself. You just hope and pray that you can get back right. I know I have a lot of football left in me. I'm not going to stop just because I had two injuries like that. It's not in my character."