Colts camp notes: Ben Heenan waived injured

Guard Kitt O'Brien signed to take Heenan's roster spot; Donald Thomas remains 'day-to-day' in comeback from torn quadriceps.

ANDERSON, Ind. — The Indianapolis Colts didn’t waste much time moving out former Canadian Football League star Ben Heenan.

Two days after the rookie offensive guard was carted off the Anderson University practice field with a right knee meniscus tear, Heenan was waived Friday with an injury settlement.

The Colts signed offensive guard Kitt O’Brien, who played collegiately nearby at Ball State and last season for the Arena Football League’s Cleveland Gladiators.

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Colts head coach Chuck Pagano announced Heenan’s injury after Friday morning’s walk-through and said Heenan would need surgery. The initial estimate on a recovery timetable was four to six weeks.

Although he had interest from several NFL teams, Heenan chose the Colts because he saw an opportunity to play for a team that had shuffled its offensive line with 11 different starting combinations last year.

While he wasn’t expected to start, Heenan was thought to be a prospect the Colts could develop. The CFL’s No. 1 overall choice in 2012 has decent size, 6-4 and 315, for an offensive guard, but he was down the roster on the depth chart.

O’Brien has played 23 games in two seasons for the AFL’s Gladiators. He started 36 of 40 college games for Ball State.

Who starts for Mathis?

Owner Jim Irsay’s Wednesday night update that outside linebacker Robert Mathis probably won’t be back on the field until late September or early October likely means Trent Cole and Erik Walden will be the starters at outside linebacker.

Cole, signed during free agency, had 85.5 sacks in 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, including 6.5 last season. Walden was second on the Colts with a career-high six sacks in 2014, but the team especially likes his ability to set the edge against the run.

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Second-year pro Jonathan Newsome, the Colts’ sack leader with 6.5 last season, is slotted as a backup for now but look for him to get his share of snaps in pass-rush situations. Bjoern Werner, a first-round choice in 2013, is also competing for time as a backup as he tries to boost his stock after a pair of underwhelming seasons.

Mathis, a six-time Pro Bowl star and franchise career leader with 111 sacks, missed last season after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon during a workout. The Colts still managed to generate 41 sacks, which tied with Denver, Green Bay and Minnesota for ninth in the NFL.

The last time Mathis was on the field in 2013, he led the league with 19.5 sacks. But he’s now 34 and coming off the most serious injury of his 13-year career, which has prompted questions about if he can be the same player or at the very least contribute a consistent basis.

Another Irsay update

While Irsay had previously expressed the desire to have contracts finalized for Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and offensive left tackle Anthony Castonzo by Labor Day, the owner moved up that timetable by saying he hoped the deals would be done by the end of the month.

Irsay doesn’t want the contract talks to linger in the regular season.

Hilton’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, attended Colts camp Tuesday and said positive progress has been made on a new contract for his client. Rosenhaus also liked Irsay’s suggestion of a Labor Day timetable.

The day before, Castonzo confirmed his agent has had ongoing talks with the Colts about a new multi-year contract extension.

Both players are entering the final years of their rookie contracts.

GM says Thomas ‘day to day’

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson appeared on Indianapolis radio Wednesday and said offensive left guard Donald Thomas is “day-to-day” in his return from a torn right quadriceps.

Thomas was working on the adjacent practice field while his team practiced at Macholtz Stadium Wednesday night. The eighth-year pro has played two games in two years due to two tears of his right quadriceps.

Presuming he can stay healthy, Thomas is expected to start at left guard. Lance Louis is getting the first-team snaps at that spot now.

One other roster move

Thursday’s day off from camp was not without a roster move as the Colts claimed rookie cornerback Tevin Mitchel off waivers from the Washington Redskins and released rookie safety Robert Smith.

The Colts evidently coveted Mitchel, who was drafted in the sixth round by the Redskins but suffered a shoulder injury and was waived injured. The team release reported he’s “expected to miss the season.”

If players without tenure are released in preseason, they must past through waivers. If Mitchel cleared, he could have reverted back to the Redskins’ injured reserve.

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

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