Before the first snap of preseason, Indianapolis Colts fans knew that the offensive line would be the biggest question mark on the team. Now, one game into the warm-up campaign, more superstitious observers have to wonder if injuries can be contagious.
It’s hard to know exactly when the run of bad luck started this season, but let’s say for argument’s sake it was with Donald Thomas, who tore his quad two weeks ago. Center Khalid Holmes limped off the New York Jets‘ field during the first series last week with a badly sprained ankle. Then newly drafted Ulrick John (not John Ulrick) suffered a broken ankle against those same Jets. Backup Xavier Nixon had knee surgery. The other newly drafted lineman, Jack Mewhort, spent part of Sunday practice (and all of Monday practice) with ice on his knee. And that’s just the past two weeks.
In an interview with (currently healthy) lineman Joe Reitz, Indianapolis radio personality Big Joe Staysniak asked, “Are you all eating the same food? Is there something in the water?” To which I would have followed up, “What’s the broken mirror/indoor umbrella situation?” or “Is it possible that some distant Manning cousin in New Orleans is a witch doctor trying to turn the Colts into the 20th century Boston Red Sox?”
In all seriousness, when compared to the rest of the league, the Colts have had more than their fair share of injuries over the past several seasons. Perhaps it’s a balance of luck (because they stumbled into Luck). Or perhaps it’s a symptom of some bigger problem, such as over-practicing, under-practicing or incorrect diagnosis of injuries and treatments? I don’t know. No one seems to know.
Some former players have speculated that the new training camp rules limiting hits and padded practices (rules intended to extend playing careers) might actually interfere with adequate preparation for the season. Anyone who’s followed the NBA over the past decade has probably heard jokes (and legitimate observations) about what an advantage the Phoenix Suns‘ training staff has been and how they’ve rejuvenated careers. It’s hard to think that the Colts’ training staff might be an issue (After all, it was a member of this staff that first caught coach Chuck Pagano‘s cancer symptoms). But at what point does a pattern start to indicate more than just bad luck?
Bad luck for the offensive line ultimately means bad luck for Luck, and the team can’t win without him, talented and experienced though Matt Hasselbeck may be. However, issues with the line might, in a way, lead to a more entertaining performance. The Colts will have to play fast — like, maybe Chip Kelly fast. They have the weapons to do it, and it might be their only hope of survival (unless they find a way to sneak Felix Felicis through the PED tests). If they can’t find the root cause the offensive line issue, an injury to Luck feels a little inevitable. But that might be my Paul George shell-shock still talking.