As a rookie, the second-round draft choice out of Ohio State took over for injured left guard Donald Thomas. Mewhort started 14 regular-season games, including one at right tackle, before returning to left guard for three playoff games.
Now he is the likely replacement for offensive right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who was waived Sunday in a surprise roster move just six days before players are to report to Anderson University for training camp. Cherilus suffered knee, groin and shoulder injuries last season.
The Colts could also consider veteran Todd Herremans, who played mostly guard but also right tackle for the Philadelphia Eagles, or backup tackle/guard Joe Reitz, who was re-signed to a multi-year contract in the offseason.
Mewhort, 23, played right tackle during the offseason program and was a left tackle in his final college season. At 6-6 and 308, he has the size and speed to make the adjustment. He played right tackle for the injured Cherilus in last season’s regular-season finale. Reitz started at right tackle in three playoff games.
By his own admission, Mewhort endured some humbling rookie moments early last season. But he improved and by season’s end was regarded as part of the Colts’ O-line future.
Mewhort spoke during OTAs about how the Colts have trained their offensive linemen to be versatile and ready to step in at any position. He even took some snaps at center during his rookie preseason.
Like most players, he said it didn’t matter where he played. He’s a team guy who just wants to contribute any way he can.
The shift to right tackle will be more of a challenge than being plugged in at guard. Blocking schemes often help a guy inside, especially when the center helps block down on the defender opposite a guard.
But right tackle puts a blocker more on an island against outside pass rushers. A tight end or running back can assist with a chip block or double team, but Mewhort will have to prove he doesn’t need much help or it will set the offense back.
Because Cherilus wasn’t as effective due to injuries, giving a right tackle some help wouldn’t be anything new. When backup Joe Reitz played the position late in the season and in the playoffs, he would sometimes get blocking help from the right guard, tight end or running back.
The greater concern is developing offensive line continuity. The Colts used 11 different starting O-line combinations last season due to continual injuries and ineffectiveness. Despite that, quarterback Andrew Luck took fewer sacks in his third season, 27, compared to 32 the year before and 41 as a rookie.
The Colts will want to emerge from training camp with a starting O-line that has developed some chemistry during preseason. On several occasions last season, players struggled up front. Aside from Cherilus, the team used three players at right guard as well as three centers in 2014.
Some of those players also needed blocking help at times. There’s only so much assistance a team can provide if more than one player is struggling.
The Colts spent millions to upgrade the offense by signing wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Frank Gore and drafting wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round. They also re-signed running back Daniel Herron.
Now the team has to sort out who can be most effective up front to ensure Luck and his weapons can become the prolific offense many are anticipating.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.