Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is going to need all the help that he can get in 2012 to lead the team to a better fate than the one it suffered in 2011. Colts fans all know that the defense has been the weak sister of this club for eons, and I don't see that changing too much this year under new head coach Chuck Pagano. Like it or not, the Colts' fortunes will likely rest primarily on the shoulders of Luck and his offense, which makes every player on that side of the ball worth watching. Unfortunately for all of us who bleed Blue and White, the Colts' season took a big hit before it even got started when lineman Ben Ijalana went down with a torn ACL on July 31, ending his year and possibly his career in Indy. For Luck, it means that an already shaky line just became even more uncertain, and the Colts' next moves will be critical in setting the course for his first NFL foray.
Ijalana was already seen by most around the Circle City as a disappointment after he rewarded the Colts for making him their second-round draft pick in 2011 by missing most of the season with another ACL injury. His performance was spotty at best when he did take the field, and the dreams we had of Ijalana and first-rounder Anthony Costanzo driving a Peyton Manning-led offense down the field evaporated faster than you could say "Kerry Collins." By the end of the season, Ijalana had joined the rotation of journeymen on the O-line and did little to inspire confidence for the future. Still, he entered training camp fighting for a starting slot, and he probably would have been a favorite if not for the notion that he still had some rehabbing to do. At any rate, most of us expected him to eventually unseat Joe Reitz or Jeff Linkenbach at left guard (or right tackle, or somewhere).
Now Ijalana is out for the year, again, and the Colts can't count on his big body to plug up any holes until at least 2013. During the Bill Polian era in Indianapolis, the Colts were pretty adept at picking up undrafted free agents and other unloved souls, and turning them into useful NFL players. New general manager Ryan Grigson will need to work some magic, too, or we'll see another year of shuffling up front and scuffling in the pocket by Luck. Indy may have to get really creative in order to add some depth and stop defenders from running all over their hotshot rookie.
I wonder if it's too late for the Colts to ask for a mulligan with Jake Kirkpatrick?
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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