INDIANAPOLIS — The red hot Indianapolis Colts offensive line will be rolling with a new center on Sunday, as starter Ryan Kelly has officially been ruled out of Sunday's Week 12 matchup against the Miami Dolphins, head coach Frank Reich said Wednesday.
Kelly was originally listed with a knee injury last Friday and missed practice that day, although he was able to play two days later in the Colts' Week 11 victory over the Tennessee Titans. But Kelly would be tangled up in a pile in the fourth quarter of that contest, and would be sidelined for the rest of the game.
Reich confirmed Monday that Kelly could "miss a little time" due to his knee injury, and, accordingly, he has since been officially ruled out for Sunday's game against the Dolphins.
Expected to take Kelly's place in the lineup will be third-year veteran Evan Boehm, who has appeared in five games this season with Indy after being signed off the Los Angeles Rams' practice squad on Oct. 9.
Boehm, who has primarily played guard at the professional level, last started a game at center during his senior season at Missouri, but he has spelled Kelly at his spot a couple times already this season — for a series back in Week 7 against the Oakland Raiders, and then again when he went out during the fourth quarter last Sunday against the Titans.
Boehm told reporters on Tuesday that he's looking forward to the challenge.
“I love having the ball in my hand, I love being in control of the line, I love being in that leadership situation,” Boehm said Tuesday, via the IndyStar. “Ultimately, if I give them a bad ‘Mike’ point or a bad situation to be in, that could be on me. … I like being in control.”
The pressure is on for Boehm, however, as he is stepping into a Colts offensive line that has not allowed a sack in five straight games — tied for the third-longest such streak in NFL history.
Bring it on, Boehm says.
“We’re going to keep that trend going,” Boehm said. “It’s not going to fall off on my watch.”
Reich said Wednesday he's comfortable with Boehm anchoring the offensive line, and that not much will change on Sunday.
"One or two run plays we might slightly change, but nothing major" he said. "And we think in the protection world he'll be ready to go."
The Colts also added some insurance to the center position on Tuesday, signing three-year veteran Josh Andrews off the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad.
Hooker, Hunt return
Reich said safety Malik Hooker, who missed last Sunday's game against the Titans, will return to practice on Wednesday. That ended up being the case, as Hooker was listed as a limited participant.
Another injured defensive starter, defensive tackle Margus Hunt, was also on the practice field on Wednesday.
Hooker, who has been battling a hip issue (and also was listed with an illness on Friday) — did not practice all of last week, and was initially labeled as questionable for the game. But on Saturday, he was officially downgraded to out.
Hooker has been dealing with the hip injury since the Colts' Week 7 victory over the Buffalo Bills, and has been listed on the team's injury report since.
The issued caused Hooker to miss the next week’s game against the Oakland Raiders heading into the bye week, although he was able to return two weeks ago against the Jacksonville Jaguars, recording four tackles and recovering a late fumble to seal a divisional victory.
On the year, Hooker has played in, and started, eight games, and has 31 tackles, one interception, two passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
Hunt, meanwhile, suffered a knee injury during last Sunday's game against the Titans and didn't return. He was back to being a full participant in Wednesday's practice, however.
» DNP: S Clayton Geathers (knee); TE Ryan Hewitt (ankle); C Ryan Kelly (knee); TE Erik Swoope (knee); DT Al Woods (illness)
» Limited: CB Nate Hairston (ankle); S Malik Hooker (hip)
» Full: DT Margus Hunt (knee); CB Kenny Moore II (back)