INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts have had the best offensive line in the NFL the past few weeks, and now it could be getting even better.
The Colts today designated tackle/guard Joe Haeg as their second and final player to return from injured reserve to the practice field, setting in motion a 21-day period in which the team could decide to move Haeg to the active roster or revert him to IR for the rest of the season.
The third-year North Dakota State product was placed on IR Sept. 28 after suffering an ankle injury in the Colts’ Week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Haeg had started Indy’s first three games of the season at right tackle.
Since that time, Haeg has been seen working off to the side with team trainers, with hopes that he could re-join the team at some point later in the season.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said last week Haeg was “getting close” to a possible return.
“He’s making really good progress,” Reich said.
If Haeg is eventually able to return to the active roster, he gives the Colts another versatile piece that can play all five positions up front.
A fifth-round (155th-overall) selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, Haeg that year started 14-of-15 games at three different positions (left guard, right guard and right tackle), becoming the first league rookie to start at three different spots dating back to 1998 (Kyle Turley).
Last season, Haeg competed in all 16 games with 15 starts at right tackle and right guard.
Haeg added center duties to his repertoire this past offseason, and was oftentimes seen working in with the second team at that spot during training camp and the preseason.
Just when they finally start to get their offensive line sorted out on the interior, the Colts run into a slew of injuries at the tackle position that leave them scrambling. The loss of Anthony Castonzo for the early part of the season has left the Colts shuffling players around to fill in. Joe Haeg played week one at left tackle with J’Marcus Webb holding down the right tackle spot.
Week two saw Haeg shift to the right side and Le’Raven Clark did his best to hold down the left side after Webb was lost for the season. Now it looks as though Haeg will be going to injured reserve with the hope that he can return in November when his ankle is healed.
The return of Denzelle Good as well as the hopefully impending return of Anthony Castonzo means that the picture might not be as bleak in the near future, but right now, the Colts enter Sunday’s game with just two healthy offensive tackles and guard Braden Smith, who has practiced at right tackle, as a potential backup should someone need to leave due to injury.
Having Joe Haeg healthy on this roster has been invaluable, as he has proven a capable backup at just about every position across the line. His loss for a significant amount of time makes it even more critical that the Colts get Castonzo back and healthy. Until then, the offense is likely to struggle as they have made it their primary goal to keep Andrew Luck healthy, which has meant getting the ball out quickly. Without better blocking, they will continue to be a very limited offense.
Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Joe Haeg has been nominated as the team’s representative for the 2018 Salute to Service Award, the league announced Thursday.
Currently in his third season with the Colts, Haeg found himself working on the right side of the offensive line at both the guard and offensive tackle positions before suffering an injury that landed him on the injured reserve list.
The award, which is given annually, “honors a league member who demonstrates an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community,”
Below is a write up on Haeg, who has many ties with the military community:
Joe Haeg is entering his third season with the Indianapolis Colts. Joe is known as a friend, supporter, and teammate to military service members and veterans nationwide. Joe’s best friend is an officer in the U.S. Marines and his cousin serves in the U.S. Air Force. Joe plays in the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Game to benefit the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team every summer while home in Brainerd, Minnesota. Haeg wears his military pride on his sleeve and on his cleats. Joe is once again representing the Wounded Warrior Project as his charity of choice for the League’s My Cause My Cleats game, just as he has for the past two seasons. For Haeg, it’s about giving back to those who sacrifice so much, he uses his platform with the Colts and the NFL to shine a light on the real heroes – the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and those who served before them.
Finalists will be announced after the regular season while the recipient will be honored during the NFL Honors Awards show on Feb. 2.