INDIANAPOLIS — They say availability is the best ability. For the Indianapolis Colts, Joe Haeg has been available for them since day one, wherever they need him.
Haeg has played in 31 of a possible 32 games for the Colts in his two years, and has started 29 of them. Between the preseason and regular season, it seems as if the team has seen Haeg perform at every spot on the offensive line except center.
So what did Haeg do this offseason? He was seen working in mostly with the second-team offensive unit at — you guessed it — the center position during OTA and minicamp practices.
You never want injuries to occur, but it's the nature of the beast in a sport like football. And in case of injury, the Colts are prepared to use Haeg now at all five positions up front.
“Joe is really versatile," head coach Frank Reich said. "He can play all five positions, he can snap the ball.
“That’s a big deal, just to be able to play center and snap the ball and have the smarts to make all the calls that we make in our scheme. Joe is adapting real well to the new offense and the versatility of him playing all the positions.”
Some have wondered in the past if it wouldn’t be better to just let Haeg perfect one position, but his value to the team is in his ability to play any position. He even joked about the continuous switching, saying, “I kind of want to get a little bit of big man tight end in. I think my ball skills would be universal out there.”
Similar to last year, Haeg received reps at center during practice, but that has been ratcheted up a bit this offseason.
Haeg elaborated on the difference between last year and this year in regard to him practicing at center.
“Yeah, so last year I was the emergency center. I would just do quarterback center exchanges before practices because there were I think two or three games – the Seattle game when we lost (Deyshawn) Bond in the first couple plays – Adam Redmond went in and then I was the next man up if that would’ve happened.
“But yeah, I just did that and during OTAs did quarterback center exchanges and they just wanted me to get more actual reps. It’s a lot different than just doing it by yourself and just snapping to the quarterbacks. It’s a challenge and I am just kind of taking it one day at a time.”
Haeg isn’t the only option for the Colts at center behind Ryan Kelly, as Deyshawn Bond is on the roster, and Matt Slauson and Quenton Nelson are listed as guard/center. However, it will be interesting to monitor how reps are split up at center on the first, second and third units during training camp.