INDIANAPOLIS — Two years ago, if you had asked Anthony Castonzo how much longer he thought he’d play in the NFL, he might’ve given you a two- or three-year window.
“My body honestly feels better right now than I think it did my rookie year stepping in here,” Castonzo told reporters on Thursday.
So what’s the difference?
Turns out it was a simple change in his workout regimen that did the trick.
Castonzo had been feeling the effects of chronic knee pain year-round for the first eight seasons of his NFL career, and last year he reached a breaking point when he pulled his hamstring three different times, all while trying to work his way back to the field during the offseason months heading into training camp.
The injury would result in Castonzo missing the first five games of the 2018 regular season.
So he got with Rusty Jones, the Colts’ Director of Sports Performance, who has a proven track record of finding ways to extend the careers of his players during his prior stops with the Buffalo Bills and the Chicago Bears.
Turns out, Castonzo’s knees weren’t the issue. He had an imbalance in his hips.
So Jones worked with Castonzo on adding posterior chain exercises to his routine, which, in turn, not only helped his hips, but strengthened his hamstrings and, perhaps most importantly, took the pressure off his knees.
Castonzo says he’s pain-free this offseason for the first time in years.
“It’s pretty crazy what they’ve done, and it’s just making me feel good,” he said. “And it’s exciting. It’s exciting to be able to be going into a season at age 30 possibly playing my best football.”
Castonzo’s presence clearly had an effect once he was able to return to the lineup for the Colts’ Week 6 matchup against the New York Jets last season. From that point on until the team wrapped up its regular season with a road victory against the Tennessee Titans, the Colts allowed the fewest sacks (eight) in the NFL, while the offensive line paved the way for Marlon Mack to run for 874 yards during that same span, the fourth-most in the league.
So while many offensive linemen get to 30 and perhaps start thinking about their next chapter, those thoughts haven’t crept into Castonzo’s mind. Not recently, at least.
He might be the veteran figure of an extremely talented offensive line room, but he certainly doesn’t feel like it — and that’s what’s key.
“I think that, if anything, I’m still getting better,” he said. “I just feel like one of the guys. I would expect the guys to kind of look at me and realize that I’m able to continue to get better at age 30, and if they followed that same path that I kind of set forward that I could be a leader in that way. But in terms of being the old guy, it doesn’t feel that way.”