INDIANAPOLIS —"You can't make this stuff up."
That was the reaction by Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano heading into Week 10, when defensive end Henry Anderson was going to have to be placed on injured reserve, ending his season, with, of all things, a freak throat injury.
By that time, several key players had already gone down for the year with injuries, but perhaps it was Anderson's damaged larynx that made it crystal clear: the Colts weren't going to be catching many breaks in 2017.
"It's been one dude after another," Pagano said earlier this week on 1070 The Fan's "Colts Roundtable Live." "I mean, nobody knows half these guys that we trot out on the football field anymore — they're getting to know 'em — but it makes it extremely difficult from a continuity standpoint, communication, chemistry, quarterbacks throwing to wide outs…"
That's not to say the Colts are using the injuries as an excuse for their 3-12 record entering the final game of the season. A couple other teams — including the Houston Texans, Indy's opponent in Sunday's 2017 finale — have also dealt with more than their fair share of key injuries throughout the year.
And, despite all their losses on the 53-man roster, the Colts have been able to remain competitive in most of their games this season. The team has had a lead, or at least been tied, going into halftime in 10 of their 15 games, but have only been able to close out three of those contests with victories.
"We make no excuses," Pagano said. "I have no regrets, and this team has no regrets. We'd love to have been able to close out these one-score games and have more than half of them go the other way."
But just how expansive have those injuries been for the Colts this season? Let's take a position-by-position look at the key players to hit the IR list this season (a list that doesn't include starting safety Clayton Geathers, who underwent offseason neck surgery and was on the PUP list from training camp through Week 10):
- Andrew Luck: After undergoing surgery to his throwing shoulder early in the offseason, the initial hope was for Luck to be back by the start of the regular season. He would eventually return to the practice field in a limited capacity by early-October, but on Oct. 18, general manager Chris Ballard announced Luck would be held out of practice indefinitely after experiencing some soreness in his shoulder. He would be shut down for good on Nov. 2 when he was placed on IR. "Certainly you'd love to start the season with your starting quarterback," Pagano said. "We all know how difficult it is to win in the National Football League when you have him available, but when you don't have Andrew for the entire season, that's not a good thing; that's hard. Not taking away from anybody else — not taking away from Jacoby (Brissett) — but you don't have him for the entire season."Running Back:
- Robert Turbin: Turbin, the Colts' No. 2 running back, had carved quite a niche out of the backfield for the Indy offense as a tough runner — he had converted more 3rd-and-1 situations into first downs than any other player in the NFL — and a terrific pass protector, but suffered a season-ending elbow injury Oct. 16 against the Tennessee Titans and was placed on IR four days later.Tight End:
- Mo Alie-Cox: Swoope, a college basketball player at the University of Miami who hadn't played organized football prior to be signed by the Colts in May 2014, had worked and worked and worked to get caught up, and last season would see action in all 16 games, starting four, and catching 15 passes for 297 yards and his first-career touchdown. Heading into 2017, Swoope was going to be an even bigger part of the offense as the Colts' No. 2 tight end, but in training camp, he elected to have a scope procedure done on his knee, and he was placed on IR at the start of the season. Though he would return to the practice field later in the year, the team faced a deadline to decide whether to activate Swoope to the 53-man roster or revert him to IR for the remainder of the year, and because he wasn't quite 100 percent, Pagano said the Colts elected for the latter.
- Brandon Williams: Signed this offseason as a potential No. 3 tight end and special teams standout, Williams stepped in as the Colts' No. 2 tight end after Swoope underwent knee surgery. Williams played in 14 games in all in 2017, but two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos, he suffered a scary-looking concussion on a punt play that saw the tight end placed on a stretcher and momentarily taken to a local hospital. He was placed on IR on Dec. 22.
- Krishawn Hogan: A local product playing in his rookie season out of NAIA Marian University, Hogan had earned a spot on the Colts' 53-man roster by Week 4, when he made his NFL debut, but the very next week, against the San Francisco 49ers, he suffered a knee injury and would be placed on IR the next day.Offensive Line:
- Ryan Kelly: The Colts' starting center, Kelly had a frustrating 2017 campaign, starting in training camp when he suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss the first four games of the regular season. Upon his return to the starting lineup, Kelly would experience a couple more injury issues before suffering a concussion Dec. 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kelly, who played in seven games in 2017 after playing in, and starting, all 16 games as a rookie last year, was placed on IR Dec. 18.
- Jack Mewhort: Mewhort, who had an injury-plagued 2016 season, entered the 2017 regular season trying to play through some lingering issues, but after starting at right guard for the first five games, he would be placed on IR on Oct. 14 to undergo surgery to his knee. Mewhort — who has played in 15 games the last two seasons after playing in 30 games his first two years with the Colts — is in the final year of his rookie contract in Indy.
- Deyshawn Bond: Bond, a Cincinnati product who played his high school ball nearby at Warren Central, signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent after attending a local pro day at the team's facility. A few months later, he was inserted as Indy's starting center after Ryan Kelly suffered a foot injury during a training camp practice. Bond would go on to start the first four games of the season for the Colts — becoming just the fifth undrafted rookie in the NFL since 2001 to start at center in his team's season opener — before suffering a season-ending quad injury Oct. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. He was placed on IR two days later.
- Denzelle Good: Good had worked into the best shape of his life heading into the Colts' 2017 season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, starting at right tackle, but on the plane ride home from that game, he said he noticed his wrist had swelled up like a balloon. He would be placed on IR to undergo surgery three days later. The Colts were able to use one of their "return from IR" designations on Good, however, and he returned to the lineup Nov. 26 against the Tennessee Titans.
- Henry Anderson: Anderson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury during his rookie year two seasons ago and, really, spent last season trying to work his way back, was really starting to look like a monster up front for the Colts' defensive line this year when he suffered a freak throat injury Nov. 5 against the Houston Texans, and had to be placed on IR four days later to undergo corrective surgery. In nine games with eight starts, Anderson collected 22 tackles (four for a loss) with two sacks, seven quarterback hits and one forced fumble.Linebacker:
- Edwin Jackson: After impressing in his first full NFL season in 2016 with the Colts, playing in all 16 games with eight starts, Jackson was in line to compete for a starting job at inside linebacker heading into 2017 when he suffered an undisclosed injury just prior to Week 1 and was placed on IR on Sept. 2.
- John Simon: One of the Colts' top free agent acquisitions this past offseason, Simon proved he was the real deal over the first seven weeks of the season before suffering a stinger/neck injury Oct. 22 against the Jacksonville Jaguars and missing the next three games. Simon was able to return to play in two more contests in Weeks 12 and 13, but would be placed on IR Dec. 5. He finishes his first year in Indy having accumulated 42 tackles (seven for a loss) with three sacks, 12 quarterback hits, one interception (which he returned for a touchdown) and one pass defensed.
- Jon Bostic: The Colts' top inside linebacker in his first season in Indy in 2017, Bostic started the Colts' first 14 games before suffering a knee injury two weeks ago against the Denver Broncos. Placed on IR Dec. 18, he finishes his season with 97 tackles (six for a loss) with one sack, two quarterback hits, three passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
- Pierre Desir: With the Colts needing someone to step up as their No. 2 cornerback about midway through the season, Desir proved he was more-than capable of doing the job. He would start five straight games, but suffered a season-ending pectoral injury Dec. 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was placed on IR the next day. He finishes his season with 32 tackles, one interception and seven passes defensed in nine total games with six starts.
- Rashaan Melvin: The Colts' top cornerback in 2017, Melvin was able to play in 10 games this season, but will have missed the final six games with a hand injury suffered while intercepting a Marcus Mariota pass Nov. 26 against the Tennessee Titans. After trying to practice for a couple weeks with a club-like cast on his hand, Melvin was placed on IR Dec. 27.
- Malik Hooker: Hooker, the Colts' first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, had lofty expectations placed upon him from the start, and he was really delivering in his rookie year, as he logged 21 tackles and four passes defensed in the first seven games of the season, while his three interceptions showed his elite range out of the secondary. But Hooker suffered a knee injury Oct. 22 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was placed on IR two days later.**
- Quan Bray: Bray, the Colts' top kick and punt returner, was placed on IR Nov. 7 after dealing with a painful turf toe injury. Bray had returned 17 punts for 90 yards — an average of 5.3 yards per punt — and 18 kickoffs for 430 yards — an average of 23.9 yards per return — when he went down. He had also caught three passes for 39 yards for the Colts' offense.
OTHERS PLACED ON IR THIS YEAR
- Running back Josh Ferguson (has since been waived from IR and re-signed by Colts)
- Safety Tyvis Powell (has since been waived from IR)
- Cornerback Chris Culliver (has since been released from IR)
- Safety Earl Wolff IV (has since been released from IR)
- Running back George Winn
- Cornerback Tevin Mitchel (has since been waived from IR)
- Guard Blake Muir (has since been waived from IR)
- Cornerback Darryl Morris (has since been released from IR)
- Running back Dalton Crossan (has since been waived from IR)
- Outside linebacker Deiontrez Mount (has since been waived from IR)
- Wide receiver Tevaun Smith (has since been waived from IR)
- Wide receiver Chris Briggs (has since been waived from IR)
- Tight end Mo Alie-Cox (has since been waived from IR and re-signed to the Colts' practice squad)
- Running back Christine Michael
- Wide receiver Trey Griffey (has since been waived from IR)