Fresh after losing RB Vick Ballard for the season, sources are now indicating that 5-year veteran and projected starting left guard, Donald Thomas, has been lost for the year after re-tearing his quad. The injury cost Thomas 14 games last season, and he’ll now re-face the same grueling surgery and rehabilitation. Thomas was solid in his 2 starts in 2013, as the advanced metrics provided by ProFootballFocus (PFF) ranked him as the 44th best offensive guard among all qualifying offensive guards.
Nevertheless, after signing Thomas to a 4-year, $14M dollar contract in March of 2013 as one of GM Ryan Grigson’s big offensive line upgrades, the Colts have yet to see much return on their initial investment. Thomas’s long-term playing career is suddenly now murky at best, two years removed from a fully healthy season.
It’s a substantial loss for the offensive line. With 23 career starts, he was the lone veteran in the interior of the Colts’ offensive line. That’s nearly twice as many as the other 3 Colts’ projected starting interior lineman combined: 2nd-year Right Guard Hugh Thornton (12 career starts), 2nd-year Center Khaled Holmes (0 career starts), and Rookie Jack Mewhort [his projected Left Guard replacement] (0 career starts).
As their 2014 second round pick, Jack Mewhort will likely be thrown into the fire early, as he’s the heavy favorite to assume Thomas’s starting position. Like most, I’m optimistic on Mewhort, but he’s very “green” being a rookie. As a whole, one can’t help but notice how inexperienced the Colts’ interior offensive line really is.
It will be interesting to see whether GM Ryan Grigson will regret not signing a veteran guard or center earlier in this offseason as insurance. The Colts could still scoop up a veteran interior offensive lineman as teams start making cuts before the start of the regular season. My guess is we’ll see an offensive lineman added for depth sooner rather than later.