Sep 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts guard Donald Thomas (66) is carried off the field after being injured during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts Injuries: A Perspective

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In the wake of the news earlier that Colts Tight End Dwayne Allen will have hip surgery and would miss the 2013 season. The hits keep on coming as this is compounded with the news that Donald Thomas and Vick Ballard have to suffered season ending injuries. Injuries are always a tough pill to swallow as Colts fans know especially from the 2011 season in which Peyton Manning was unable to play due to his neck. However, I remain rather positive despite these tough losses of talented players of the Colts because there is enough depth to have suitable replacements.

  • Coby Fleener will be the #1 Tight End for the Colts due to Dwayne Allen’s injury. Fleener had the best game of his career last week against Miami and won’t have to compete for targets from Andrew Luck
  • Ahmad Bradshaw will supplant Vick Ballard for the starting running back job. Bradshaw is a proven back who has amassed several 1,000 yards seasons. Although his health is a concern, he is still an improvement over Vick Ballard now that there won’t be a running back by committee.
  • Hugh Thornton will take over Left Guard duties for the injured Donald Thomas. After Thomas’ injury in the Miami game, the Colts offensive line didn’t really miss a beat as Thornton played very well.

Things are still looking hopeful for these young Colts has they have more depth now than they had during the latter years of the Peyton Manning-Bill Polian regime. The 2010 season comes to mind when talking about injuries and depth. For comparisons sake, let’s take a trip back memory lane and look at the 2010 season.

  • Joseph Addai went down for about two months with an injury. Donald Brown took over the starting job and fell flat on his face. The Colts would use a revolving door of running backs including Mike Hart and Javarris James. The Colts would never muster anything close to 100 yards rushing during Addai’s injury which would force Peyton Manning to air it out more which brought about more mistakes because…
  • Dallas Clark got put on Injured Reserve in early October and Austin Collie suffered numerous concussions shortly thereafter and ended his season. Backups included Jacob Tamme and Blair White respectively. Although they produced early for the Colts offensive game, it became apparent that these receivers were not in sync with Peyton Manning as Peyton would go on a three game stretch that had him throw for 11 interceptions.  Here is an interesting stat: With Austin Collie and Dallas Clark in the lineup, Peyton had 17 touchdowns and 3 interception. With them out of the lineup, Peyton had 14 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Oh and Anthony Gonzales got hurt on Week One for the 2nd year in a row.
  • Bob Sanders would go on IR during the first game of the season against Houston which would make way for Melvin Bullitt to play the safety position. Bullitt had been a serviceable safety as he played well enough to help the Colts to a Super Bowl appearance the year prior. However in Week 4, he would go on IR after the Jaguars game and Aaron Francisco would come in and play the safety position. Francisco wasn’t a very good safety as the Colts secondary would get picked apart with ease against the likes of Matt Schaub, Michael Vick, Tom Brady, and Kerry Collins that season.
  • At different points in the season, cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Kelvin Hayden would go down with injuries for the season and would get replaced by Jacob Lacey and Justin Tyron. Lacey was a terrible man to man corner and would consistently get beaten by the more average to superior receivers. Tryon was serviceable and played well enough to help the Colts secondary with all the injuries they sustained.
  • Linebackers Gary Brackett and Clint Session would also go down with injuries with the former missing most of the season and the latter getting hurt midseason and being put on IR. Their replacements were rookies Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner. The defense still would get gashed by the run game in and game out but it’s very difficult to put rookies in a situation like that and expect immediate success.

That season, the Colts went 10-6 and lost in the wild card round to the 6th seeded New York Jets thanks to a field goal from Jets kicker Nick Folk as time expired. The problem with this team was that there was no depth to help out the positions in need due to injury. This brings me back to when the Packers won the Super Bowl that same season. They had lost two of their biggest playmakers on offense in Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley for the season early and still had the depth and drafted well enough to make the playoffs as the 6th seed and win the Super Bowl.

The Colts from 2006 onwards had not drafted well up to that point. Nearly every pick was a bust and wasn’t enough to help them win another Super Bowl. Let’s take a look…

  • 2006: 30th Overall Pick Joseph Addai only played one complete season in his NFL career.
  • 2007: 32nd Overall Pick Anthony Gonzales had an abysmal career that was marred with injuries throughout.
  • 2007: 42nd Overall Pick Tony Ugoh (which was traded up for with the Colts giving up their 2008 1st rounder to the 49ers) was a bust. A very terrible offensive lineman that never panned out. Lost his starting job in 2009 and released in 2010.
  • 2008: 59th Overall Pick Mike Pollak was an ineffective offensive lineman that had been benched numerous times in his career with Indianapolis.
  • 2009: 27th Overall Pick Donald Brown was an abysmal running back in his first several years and faced problems in pass blocking. He has shown flashes of potential but they have been few and far between. Has lost starting jobs multiple times in his career.
  • 2010: 31st Overall Pick Jerry Hughes was a bad special teams player and a worse pass rusher. He only had 5 sacks and 41 tackles in his three years in Indianapolis. He would be traded this past offseason to Buffalo for Kelvin Sheppard.

I apologize if all this brought up bad memories but I think it helps gives us perspective from where we have been and what we are now. The Colts now have drafted well and made big moves in free agency the past two seasons. I couldn’t remember when the Colts made any significant move in free agency during the Bill Polian era. I’m glad the Colts don’t have to rely on unproven players to step up in case of an injury anymore. This is how the Colts went 2-14 in 2011 which in turn nuked the roster and got rid of all injury prone players as well as Peyton Manning so they could start anew which has been nothing short of successful thus far. I’m very comfortable with the depth of this Colts team going forward in this 2013 season and beyond as things look nothing but bright for this organization.

Even as I am typing this, Colts owner Jim Irsay has rumblings on the twitter on a “Monster Trade” See Colts fans? The Colts of this regime are always looking for improvement and that makes me a very happy Colts fan.

GO COLTS!!

Frank McMahen is a Staff Writer at Naptown’s Finest. Follow Frank and Naptown’s Finest on Twitter.

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Tags: Bill-polian Indianapolis Colts Jim Irsay Ryan Grigson

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