INDIANAPOLIS – Before Week Three of the 2016 NFL season, Joe Haeg had never played offensive guard in a football game.
Not middle school. Not high school. Not college.
Life in the NFL for Haeg is just a year old, but he's already experienced so much.
The debut at guard came in Week Three.
Right guard is where Haeg lined up for five starts.
He flipped over to left guard for a pair of starts.
Right tackle, the most natural position of his (Haeg started at tackle for four seasons at North Dakota State) was Haeg's home for seven starts.
In all, Haeg started 14 of 15 games after being taken in the fifth-round of last year's draft. Starting at three different positions as a rookie is a feat that hadn't been done by an NFL player since Kyle Turley in 1998.
Turley was the 7th overall pick.
Haeg was the 155th overall pick.
"It's been crazy," Haeg said late in 2016 trying to sum up his first NFL season. "When I first got here, I kind of came in with the open mindset of maybe they will put me here or put me here. I didn't really think of the possibility of jumping around every game, but it's been an awesome experience.
"It's something that has made me a better player in the long run, just being able to understand every position on the offensive line, not one specifically. I think it's something that is going to continue to help me in the next couple of years."
Despite everything thrown at Haeg in 2016, a lot of it stuck, enough to believe he is a future piece of the starting five in front of Andrew Luck.
Earlier this month, new GM Chris Ballard said the Colts must solidify the right side of their line, with Haeg a likely young piece that can be developed.
The left side of LT-Anthony Castonzo, LG-Jack Mewhort, C-Ryan Kelly appears to be in place.
A combo of Haeg at right guard and fellow rookie Le'Raven Clark at right tackle showed promise in starting the final three weeks of the 2016 season.
What seemed like a whirlwind for Haeg this past season began to ease in pace late in the year.
As the learning has continued, Haeg could very well find a home (for now) to start 2017 at the right guard position.
"I've learned so much more about defenses in general (and) learned the playbook a lot more," Haeg said about his growth. "The game has slowed down for me. A lot of guys talk about that. But when you show up to rookie minicamp, OTAs, everything just seems like when you are looking at a defense it's like, 'What the heck is going on?' But it's been awesome to go through it.
"The last year and a half and my whole college career ending, it's been non-stop but a great experience. I've head great teammates and this whole organization is so supportive. It's been an awesome year and I'm excited (about the future)."
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