Gosder Cherilus was hurt for much of the 2014 season before it finally came to an end Wednesday, when the Indianapolis Colts placed their starting offensive right tackle on season-ending injured reserve.
The roster move was a surprise considering Cherilus was seen hours earlier on the practice field, albeit as a limited participant due to a groin injury.
“He was limited,” Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said after practice. “When you saw him, he was just getting extra warm up time with those guys, so he got a few plays here and there.”
Cherilus evidently had a setback that necessitated shutting him down for the postseason. He has also dealt with knee and shoulder injuries this season, which at times negatively affected his play. The hope was that two weeks of rest would help him be ready for the playoffs.
The Colts (11-5) have shuffled offensive lines throughout the season, so Sunday’s combination against the Cincinnati Bengals (10-5-1) in an AFC Wild Card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium could be the team’s 11th.
Pagano typically doesn’t divulge his plans when changes are made to the starting lineup. Cherilus missed the last two regular-season games. In the first absence, the Colts used Xavier Nixon, then in Sunday’s season finale, they shifted rookie offensive left guard Jack Mewhort to right tackle. Mewhort played tackle in college at Ohio State.
The return of reserve offensive tackle/guard Joe Reitz could mean he gets the start at right tackle or he could be placed at guard and Mewhort could stay where he started last week.
Cherilus spent five seasons with Detroit before he signed a five-year, $34-million contract with the Colts in 2013. He didn’t miss a start last season, but was sidelined for three this season.
Pagano acknowledged earlier in the day how the constant O-line shuffling has made life more difficult in terms of continuity. Quarterback Andrew Luck was sacked 27 times and absorbed 90 hits this season.
“Yeah, it’s hard, but again we make no excuses,” Pagano said. “It’s next man up. You’d like to go 16 weeks and have the same five guys start week-in and week-out, but that hasn’t been the case since we got here. We’ve dealt with it every single year. So it is what it is, and we’re fortunate that we’ve got a bunch of guys that have position flexibility, can play a lot of spots. We’ve got smart guys, we’ve got tough guys that can fill in and play winning football.”
Asked if Reitz would be good to go for Sunday after missing the last two games, Pagano said, “He practiced well today.”
Reitz, a fourth-year pro who played his high school ball locally at Hamilton Southeastern, has started four games this season, one at right tackle, one at left guard and two at right guard. He’s started 24 games in his career.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.