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Colts/Jaguars Notebook: Colts Start Three Rookie Offensive Linemen In London

Intro: In the Colts/Jaguars Week Four Notebook, we take a look at a youthful day for the offensive line, the struggles defensively and what the AFC South looks like after the first quarter of the season.


INDIANAPOLIS – It's not your typical Monday following a Sunday game for the Indianapolis Colts.

The team landed at Indianapolis International Airport in the early hours of Monday morning after losing their first divisional contest of 2016 over in London.

Here's a notebook look at the Colts (1-3) dropping another game that wasn't decided until the final minutes:

**Injuries Force Three Rookie Offensive Linemen Into Starting Lineup

**Even though the Colts did spend half of their 2016 draft picks on offensive linemen, they never expected to be starting 75 percent of that bunch in a game this season.

It happened on Sunday though.

Back injuries to starting right guard Denzelle Good and starting right tackle Joe Reitz left both players limited in practice on Thursday and Friday.

Reitz did some pre-game work on Sunday, but neither improved enough to keep them off the inactive list for Jacksonville

In place of Reitz was fifth-round selection Joe Haeg. In the team's Week Three win over the Chargers, Haeg initially started at right guard, in place of Good. Then when Reitz left late in the first half, Haeg kicked out to right tackle.

At right guard on Sunday, it was seventh-round pick Austin Blythe making his first NFL start. Blythe played some guard in college but had not seen any action at right guard in the preseason.

Haeg and Blythe joined fellow rookie Ryan Kelly as 3/5th of Andrew Luck's starting line against the Jaguars.

It was a not a great afternoon for the unit.

Luck was sacked a career-high six times, as the offense could not gather any real production through the game's first 40 minutes.

"They fought their butts off," Luck said of the offensive line following the 30-27 loss, "but by no means was it perfect by anybody on offense."**

Healthy Defense Cannot Slow Jaguars' Offense

**For the first time since the Colts offseason program in the spring, new defensive coordinator Ted Monachino had his expected starting defense together.

But that bunch could not solve the riddle of Jacksonville's balanced offensive attack.

The Jaguars' running game came into Sunday ranked 31st in the league, but had a yards per carry hovering above six yards for much of the afternoon.

When Jacksonville went to the air they found success against an Indy secondary that struggled with penalties, too (the Colts have the most defensive penalties in the league through four weeks).

Coming into Week Four, the Colts hadn't allowed a passing touchdown in 76 straight pass attempts (the third longest streak in the NFL).

That streak ended midway through the first quarter with Jags quarterback Blake Bortles finishing the afternoon with two touchdowns and no interceptions, the first time he hadn't committed a turnover this season.

The play of the Colts defense on Sunday was a bit of a surprise considering the healthy bodies back, adding to the improvements that bunch made in the win over San Diego.

Some late fourth-quarter stops to give the offense waning opportunities weren't enough.

"The difference between winning and losing is paper thin," veteran Robert Mathis said on Sunday.

"It's not cliché. It really is just that. If you shoot yourself in the foot and get those penalties, you are not going to win in this league.

Colts Sit Two Games Back At Quarter Pole

The most important barometer for the Colts after the first quarter of 2016 is the number two.

After four weeks, the Colts (1-3) sit two games behind the division-leading Houston Texans (3-1).

The Texans' home win over the Titans (1-3) on Sunday added to their cushion in the AFC South. All three teams chasing Houston are currently at 1-3.

Getting out of divisional play won't last long for the Colts.

After playing Chicago (1-3) in Week Five, the Colts will climb back into the AFC South the next two weeks with a trip to Houston (Oct. 16) and another road contest in Tennessee (Oct. 23).

The Colts do not play their first home AFC South game of the season until after their bye week (Tennessee, Nov. 20).

Colts/Jaguars Snap Counts

  • Unlike Week Three against San Diego, the Colts used more three wide receiver sets versus Jacksonville, instead of the two tight ends looks they had against the Chargers. The wide receiver snaps went to: T.Y. Hilton (75-of-78), Jacoby Brissett (71-of-78), Chester Rogers (51-of-78) and Quan Bray (7-of-78). The tight end reps were: Dwayne Allen (62-of-78), Jack Doyle (40-of-78) and Mo Alie-Cox (7-of-78).
  • At right guard, Austin Blythe (77 snaps) made his first career NFL start on Sunday, taking the place of Denzelle Good (back). Fellow rookie Joe Haeg (78 snaps) had his first career NFL start out at right tackle, in place of Joe Reitz (back).
  • Lately, we've seen Josh Ferguson (30 snaps) take more reps behind Frank Gore (34 snaps). Robert Turbin played 14 offensive snaps in London.
  • Defensively, safeties Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers played all 72 snaps.
  • The corner snaps on Sunday were as followed: Vontae Davis (69), Patrick Robinson (62), Antonio Cromartie (32) and Rashaan Melvin (32).
  • With Trent Cole now on injured reserve, the outside linebacker reps went to Erik Walden (54), Robert Mathis (51), Curt Maggitt (21) and Akeem Ayers (19).
  • Henry Anderson's play count went from 18 in his 2016 debut, to 29 against the Jaguars.
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