INDIANAPOLIS –On Sunday against Green Bay, Indianapolis could be starting a different offensive line configuration for the fourth straight game.
Though Joe Reitz was hopeful to return at left guard, he was not able to practice on Wednesday. Reitz still is overcoming a knee injury that involved minor surgery.
Should Reitz be available on Sunday, it would ensure a fourth straight game with change along the front. That would not be a difficult circumstance since he opened nine games there a year ago. If Reitz cannot play, a line that has adapted so far likely will continue to adapt.
Mike McGlynn has started each game at right guard. For the last two contests, however, he has had to move to center when Samson Satele had to leave with a knee ailment of his own.
Satele has opened all three games and has battled as long as he possibly could. He and McGlynn have been joined on the left side of the line by tackle Anthony Castonzo and guard Seth Olsen. Castonzo and Olsen have started every game, with Olsen playing in Reitz's absence.
Through three games, Olsen and Castonzo are the only linemen to remain intact in their intended positions.
Right tackle Winston Justice started at Chicago and against Jacksonville, but he was inactive in week two against Minnesota following a concussion against the Bears.
Satele, Justice and McGlynn joined the Colts this year, meaning the club knew it would have fresh faces on a crucial unit. The club also was aware of the importance of developing as many players as possible since starting the same unit weekly never is a given.
"If someone goes down, someone else needs to step up and play. That's the first thing. Two, you need to have guys healthy," said Justice. "We need to gel, but we need to gel with more than just five linemen. We need to gel with every lineman that has an opportunity to play."
While continuity is the desired target, adapting is the NFL norm.
"Most of the success of your season is based on staying healthy," said McGlynn. "Adapting (is huge). If you're the next guy up, if you're in that position, you have to go ahead and do your thing. That's how opportunities come in this league."
Eight of the nine linemen on the active roster have seen playing time in 2012, including veteran Jeff Linkenbach, who opened at right tackle for Justice against Minnesota. Additionally, Trai Essex found major playing time at right guard in the last two outings before being waived.
"It's (continuity) important, but the guys are stepping up now," said Satele. "They've been in the meeting room. They've heard the coaches correct our mistakes before. Guys understand not to make mistakes again. It's pretty good.
"Coach Pagano always said, 'Next man up.' Everybody took that from training camp on. The approach was to have more than five guys, have seven or eight guys."
In 2011, Indianapolis employed seven different starting alignments on the offensive line. Only center Jeff Saturday and Linkenbach opened each game, while Ryan Diem (five), Castonzo (four) and Reitz (five) missed multiple games. The longest stretch in starting with the same unit was three games, and it was achieved once. Indianapolis started the same unit in two straight games on four occasions.
The team has battled admirably through the first three games. Indianapolis opened up double-digit leads against Minnesota and Jacksonville. A last-second drive with a makeshift unit brought a victory against the Vikings, and the club scored late in a bid to top Jacksonville in its last outing two weeks ago.
McGlynn has moved out of his intended position out of necessity. Weekly, he is ready to do whatever it takes. McGlynn was not a high-round pick to start with, and he always has placed a premium on embracing every chance to get on the field and stay there.
"In the NFL, not every guy drafted in the first round is going to be a starter. When opportunity comes for you, you have to make the best of it," said McGlynn. "You have to hang loose and look to contribute wherever and whenever you can. That's how you have to approach it. If you don't, that time will come and go and you will be out of the league."
An offense that has newcomers sprinkled in among the skill positions has averaged 90.3 rushing yards per game, and it produced a season-high 124 yards against the Jaguars. Indianapolis has rushed 59 times in its last two games. Rushing proficiency this Sunday would be important in facing a team whose offense can score at a prolific rate.
The 2-2 Packers have scored 22 or more points in three of their first four games and rank third in the NFL since 2010 with a 28.7 average. Green Bay has scored at least 30 points in 16 games since 2010, while topping 40 points eight times.
"We're going to do everything it takes to have our number 12 (Andrew Luck) on the field the whole game and take their number 12 (Aaron Rodgers) off," said McGlynn. "Time of possession is big this week. Keep our defense healthy and keep their man off the field."
Linebackers Pat Angerer (limited) and Dwight Freeney (full) worked in today's practice. Their progress will be monitored. Angerer played one snap in preseason before breaking a foot. Freeney exited early in the Chicago game with an ankle injury. Satele worked on a limited basis. Cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Justin King did not work today. Davis and King suffered injuries late in the Jacksonville game. "They're progressing nicely, they're close," said Arians. "It will be a day-to-day thing."
PRACTICE SQUAD CHANGE – The Colts today signed defensive end Clifton Geathers to the practice squad and released nose tackle Nicolas Jean-Baptiste. Geathers, 6-7, 325, has appeared in seven career games, including five last season with Dallas.