Jack Mewhort again ready for anything

Second-year offensive lineman's versatility means he can play guard, tackle or center, depending upon what Colts need.

From his first day in the Indianapolis Colts locker room last season, Jack Mewhort recalls the expectation for offensive linemen to be versatile.

O-line coach Joe Gilbert told the big guys they would be cross-training. Mewhort, a 2014 second-round selection, proved he can adapt.

He started 14 games as a rookie, 13 at left guard and one at right tackle, in a season that saw the Colts shuffle O-line combinations 11 times due to injuries. He started three games at left guard in the postseason.

Mewhort approaches his second season with the same ready-for-anything mentality. He played left tackle as a senior at Ohio State, where he was also guard. He played center in high school, too, which explains why the Colts had him hiking the ball in practice, just in case. It’s not surprising he’s getting some snaps at right tackle during offseason training activities because Gosder Cherilus is on the mend from multiple injuries.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Mewhort said Wednesday. “I’m going to do what they ask me to do. Point me in the direction and I’m going to go as hard as I can and do the best I can do, and if that’s guard, tackle, center, I’m happy to do it. I just want to help the team win. That’s all there is to it. Being an unselfish player is the biggest thing around here.”

Head coach Chuck Pagano concedes Mewhort’s versatility in college improved his draft stock.

“Versatility is hard to find,” Pagano said. “So obviously him playing a bunch of spots and playing everywhere along the line is definitely the more you can do. I think everybody is well aware of that spot and us trying to fill that hole right now. I’m fully confident that we’ve got the guys in this building right now that we’re going to be fine there.”

The Colts would appear to have a glut of guards, presuming everyone stays healthy, but right tackle is a question mark because Cherilus had injury issues for much of last season. He had a knee scoped after the season and battled groin and shoulder problems.

Cherilus isn’t expected to participate in OTAs, but the team is confident he’ll be ready for training camp in August. He was placed on injured reserve for the playoffs last January.

If he isn’t ready, Colts contingency plans could involve Mewhort or offensive guard/tackle Joe Reitz, who started for Cherilus in the postseason. The Colts are also looking at a couple of other young players.

“Joe Reitz has been getting the lion’s share of the reps over there,” Pagano said. “Ulrick John has played out there some. Obviously our last draft choice, Denzelle Good, has been getting a lot of reps out there. You’re talking about a big, big man that’s got really good feet. He’s still learning obviously and things like that, so he’s going to have a mistake here or there. But until we know where ‘Gos’ is at and those other guys that are on the mend right now and we get Mewhort back full time, I’m just glad we’ve got some other guys that can fill in right now.”

Mewhort has been limited during OTAs with an undisclosed injury. He missed two games early last season with an ankle problem.

But he sounds refreshed and excited about next season.

“I think the biggest thing I learned from the year is you have to have a routine,” he said. “It’s a grind. It’s a long year. You have to have your routine, taking care of your body, studying, practice habits.

“Coming into year two, I think I’ve carved out a little bit of a routine for myself. Obviously I’m still learning things every day. I have a lot to work on. I’m still watching, I’m still being a sponge, absorbing as much knowledge as I can, but I think year two, you have a little bit better feel for the whole process.”

The Colts have been mentioned as Super Bowl contenders after their third consecutive 11-5 season ended with an AFC Championship Game loss at New England.

“I think we’re all excited,” Mewhort said. “Obviously we don’t listen to the hype. I think our mentality since we got back is that we’re going to grind and we’re going to work, we’re going to do this thing, come out together every day and get better. I think that’s the way we’ve all approached it so far.

“No one has got an ego. Everybody just wants to win. I think everybody kind of realizes we have an opportunity to do that on a big stage this year.”

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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