INDIANAPOLIS — From opening day roster hopeful to free agent priority.
In short, that was Mark Glowinski's 2018 season for the Indianapolis Colts.
Starting the season as a backup at guard and tackle, Glowinski would take over in the starting lineup at right guard Week 6, and didn't look back from there. Nine regular season and two postseason starts later, and the Colts were dead set on re-signing the veteran lineman before he could hit the open market as a free agent.
The team on Tuesday announced it had done just that, re-signing Glowinski to a contract extension.
"Oh man, it's awesome — just the feeling of getting everything that we needed to (get) over with and being excited to be back with the team," Glowinski told Colts.com's Matt Taylor shortly after signing his new contract. "And the future is bright, so it's just awesome just to have the opportunity to be in this position."
Glowinski put himself in that position through hard work and by taking advantage when his number was called.
A fourth-round pick by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2015 NFL Draft, Glowinski had played in 36 games with 19 starts in 2 1/2 seasons in Seattle before being waived by the team in mid-December of 2017. The Colts quickly claimed him off waivers, though he was inactive for the team's final two games of the season.
Glowinski headed into last offseason knowing there were spots to be won along the Colts' offensive line, particularly at left guard, right guard and right tackle. But when the team signed veteran free agent Matt Slauson, and then selected offensive linemen Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith in the first two rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, the competition for those spots quickly increased.
Nelson was a starter from Day 1 at left guard and Slauson was the guy at right guard, but injuries along the line throughout training camp gave the coaching staff plenty of looks at Glowinski as a key piece of depth at guard, as well as at right tackle. Accordingly, Glowinski earned a spot on the initial 53-man regular season roster for that very reason.
But Slauson would suffer a season-ending back injury Week 5 against the New England Patriots, and with Smith sliding over to right tackle, Slauson's right guard spot was wide open for the taking. The team gave Glowinski first crack at the starting job — and he wouldn't let go.
In 601 total snaps, Glowinski, according to Pro Football Focus, didn't allow a single sack; in fact, he allowed just one quarterback hit and 10 hurries. At 72.7, Glowinski was PFF's 12th-highest rated guard in the NFL; his 69.5 run grade, meanwhile, ranked 10th.
Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said Glowinski's success wasn't a surprise, however.
"We knew he had the mean, nastiness in him," Sirianni said. "He was behind (Matt) Slauson because we knew Slauson had the mean, nastiness in him. He's done a great job of stepping into that role and really doing a good job of moving people in the run game, getting to people in the run game, protecting the passer.
"So we couldn't be more thrilled with how he's played. We knew we had solid depth, particularly with him, and it's been nice to see that play itself out."
With Glowinski back in the mix for 2019, the Colts enter the offseason with a chance to continue building upon a lineup up front that allowed an NFL-low 18 sacks in 2018. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo, Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, Glowinski and Smith all return to the team in 2019.
The Colts had that starting five up front for seven games — five in the regular season, and two in the postseason — throughout the 2018 season. In those seven games, Indy posted a 5-2 record and scored 30.6 points per game, allowed three total sacks, averaged 148.7 rushing yards per contest and more than 5.2 yards per carry.
Talk about all-around dominance up front.
Glowinski is looking forward to meshing even more as a group starting with offseason workouts in April.
"I think just having even a little bit more cohesion that we have is going to be crucial," he said. "And we did a great job in just making sure that we were pushing through and (making) each other accountable, even regardless of who they are and that kind of stuff; just making sure that we're doing those things. Honestly, with the group that we have, we can take it even to another level. I feel like we're just getting started."