Not long after the Indianapolis Colts lost left tackle Anthony Castonzo to season-ending ankle surgery, they made a big move on Wednesday in signing Jared Veldheer.
It may sound bold to suggest Veldheer is going to outright replace Castonzo right away at such a key position, yet the veteran did just that last season for the Green Bay Packers.
Colts news: Jared Veldheer to fill in for injured Anthony Castonzo
As was initially reported by the Indianapolis Star‘s Joel A. Erickson, Veldheer is landing with the Colts, joining an already-stout offensive line headlined by first-team All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson.
While it’s a lot to ask of Veldheer to get up to speed with head coach Frank Reich’s offense as Indianapolis pushes for an AFC playoff berth in Week 17, he proved capable in 2019 with Green Bay.
The Packers lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga to injury, only to have Veldheer step right in and not miss a beat, playing well enough to help Green Bay defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round. That said, Veldheer was with Green Bay for about a month before he was thrust into duty in Bulaga’s stead. Also, Veldheer filled in at right tackle for Bulaga, as opposed to Castonzo’s spot on the left.
Colts news: Why Jared Veldheer is so valuable to Indy and Quenton Nelson
Left tackle isn’t a position that’s easily replaced. Until this Colts news, the best option Indy might’ve had was moving Nelson to that spot. Veldheer is also joining the practice squad in time to be elevated to the active roster for Sunday’s AFC South showdown with the Jacksonville Jaguars, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.
There’s little for the Jags to play for in the regular-season finale, because they’ve already locked up the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Head coach Doug Marrone probably can’t save his job at this point. The front office is in transition.
In other words, everything is working in Indianapolis’ favor. Not that any game in the NFL is easy, but what better scenario would there be for Veldheer to get adjusted to his new surroundings? If he’s not the starter, it’ll likely be Chaz Green, who has just a 62.0 overall grade at Pro Football Focus compared to Castonzo’s 73.4.
Having a competent player at such a vital spot is key for the Colts’ hopes of maintaining offensive continuity and getting a win. What’s great is, he’ll be right next to Nelson, who’s absolutely elite at his position and can compensate for any shortcomings or rust Veldheer is experiencing.
It’d usually be a dubious proposition to bring someone out of retirement for a second time. In Veldheer’s case, he’s made 113 regular-season starts and is seasoned enough to protect quarterback Philip Rivers’ blind side, which is all the more important as the aging signal-caller is rather immobile and not the least bit capable of extending plays with his legs.