Stop me if you've heard this before. The Indianapolis Colts will (once again) be shorthanded with several key starters out due to injury. Playing with the AFC South on the line, the Colts will have to rely on the "next man up" to perform well on Sunday.
Tom Zbikowski will miss his third consecutive game, meaning Joe Lefeged will once again get the start. Lefeged will have the responsibility of accounting for the multiple tight ends the Texans use in their passing game.
New to the list this week is a collection of players still dinged up from last Sunday's win over the Titans. Two offensive line starters won't be making the trip, C Samson Satele and T Winston Justice. Satele left the locker room last Sunday in a walking boot and never got on the practice field this week. Justice tried to go, but was ruled out today. AQ Shipley will start in Satele's place and (good news!) Joe Reitz will be back to play guard, meaning Jeff Linkenbach will most likely slide over to play right tackle.
All this transition on the line occurs with the Colts facing the Texans who are tied for fourth in the NFL with 37 team sacks. JJ Watt leads the way for Houston with 16.5 sacks, tops in the AFC. After getting shut out by the Patriots last week, Houston will be eager to put up some sack numbers this week against the remade Colts line.
RB Delone Carter and LB Kavell Conner also will remain back in Indianapolis. The Colts re-signed Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore to spell Vick Ballard. With Donald Brown on the IR, Ballard now becomes the Colts' featured back by default. Linebacker is one area where the Colts have plenty of depth, so the loss of Conner won't be felt as keenly as in the other positions.
With a win Sunday, the Colts maintain their chance at winning the AFC South. A loss means Houston clinches the division, although the Colts would still remain in the driver's seat for a wild card spot.
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