Indianapolis heads into critical game without LT Castonzo

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts will try to make the playoffs Sunday without left tackle Anthony Castonzo.

Coach Frank Reich announced Wednesday the former Pro Bowler will undergo season-ending surgery on his right ankle Thursday. Reich did not explain how the Colts will fill Castonzo’s spot on their injury-plagued offensive line.

“I’m not going to go into that right now from a competitive advantage standpoint,” he said. “But we have a plan A and a plan B and we will wrap it up and confirm it on Friday.”

The timing couldn’t be worse.

Indy (10-5) needs a win over reeling Jacksonville (1-14) on Sunday and a loss by either Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami or Tennessee to make the AFC’s expanded seven-team playoff field.

Castonzo has been an anchor on the offensive line since Indy drafted him with the No. 22 overall pick in 2011. The 32-year-old started all 16 games in six of his 10 seasons and never missed more than five in the other four.

Still, this has been one of the roughest years for Castonzo, who contemplated retiring last offseason before signing a two-year deal to stay with Indy. He missed the Cleveland game in October with a rib injury, the Houston game earlier this month with an injured knee and last week’s game at Pittsburgh after hurting the ankle in practice.

“It’s something different that I have not heard before,” Reich said when asked for details about the injury. “The good news is we feel good about the procedure. It’s not career-ending or anything like that, but it’s a funky kind of injury that I’ve not heard of before.”

Castonzo’s top backup, Le’Raven Clark, suffered a season-ending torn left Achilles tendon on Dec. 6. Chaz Green filled in after Clark went down but moved to right tackle last week, in place of Braden Smith, while Indy plugged Will Holden into Castonzo’s spot. Holden hurt his knee during the game and already has been ruled out for this week.

Indy moved three-time Pro Bowl guard Quenton Nelson to left tackle briefly during one game earlier this season and with three practices to prepare, that remains a possibility.

The good news: Reich said Smith and linebacker Jordan Glasgow, a key special teams contributor, will play this week after being activated from the COVID-19 reserve list. Smith missed one game and Glasgow sat out the past three.

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