INDIANAPOLIS — Missing just eight games over the course of his eight-year NFL career — and just four games in the last seven seasons — it takes an awful lot to keep Anthony Castonzo off the field.
So when the decision was made prior to Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals to hold Castonzo out as a precaution due to a nagging hamstring injury, one can only imagine what was going through his head.
But if all goes to plan over the next few days, Castonzo will be back in his familiar spot at left tackle by this Sunday, when the Indianapolis Colts travel to Landover, Md., to take on the Washington Redskins.
“Feeling good,” Castonzo told reporters on Wednesday, prior to the team’s first practice of the week. “I’m excited to have a full week of practice and get out there and play.”
Castonzo initially suffered his hamstring injury during a private workout before the start of training camp, and started camp on the team’s Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. He was brought back to the active roster after a few days, but re-aggravated the same hamstring injury on Aug. 3.
Missing the rest of camp and the entire preseason, Castonzo was set to return to the practice field early last week, but then fell ill, which set him back another couple of days.
A limited participant in practice on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Castonzo was officially labeled as questionable heading into the Bengals game, and the team decided on Sunday morning to hold him out as a precaution.
“Honestly, I missed out on 1 1/2 practices because I got sick last week, and that kind of set me back. So that was an issue. But, yeah, now that I’m full-go, I’m feeling good,” Castonzo said. “It was extremely close. … I talked it over with the coaches and doctors; it was kind of just the risk of me going out there having not really put any load on it (hamstring), (it) would’ve been a really high risk. So that’s what we decided on.”
Asked if he definitely plans on playing if all goes well this week, Castonzo didn’t hesitate.
“Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “No question.”
Running back Marlon Mack, meanwhile, sits in a similar position to Castonzo this week.
Also dealing with a hamstring injury — he suffered his injury in the Colts’ first preseason game Aug. 9 — Mack was also a gametime decision Sunday morning before being held out as a precaution.
Head coach Frank Reich told reporters on Wednesday that the team will remain in a day-to-day mode on both Castonzo and Mack.
Against the Bengals, Joe Haeg got the start at left tackle for Castonzo, while rookie Jordan Wilkins started at running back in place of Mack.
“I do feel like it is where it needs to be. I’ve proven to myself that, especially in practice, that I can make those deeper throws. I thought (the Bengals game) was my best throwing day to date through this whole journey.” — Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, asked where he feels his arm strength is heading into the second game of the season.
Here’s Wednesday’s full practice report:
» DNP: T/G Denzelle Good (knee/wrist); CB Chris Milton (concussion)
» Limited: DT/DE Denico Autry (ankle); T Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), S Clayton Geathers (knee); RB Marlon Mack (hamstring), DT Grover Stewart (shoulder)
» Full: WR Ryan Grant (chest)
— Reich said Wednesday that Good, who suffered his knee injury in the third preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, is “making progress” but is still a “week-by-week evaluation.”
— Milton, one of the team’s top special teams players, suffered his concussion on Sunday against the Bengals while covering a punt, and is in the league’s concussion protocol.
— Autry, Geathers, Stewart and Grant are all newcomers to the injury report this week.