Indianapolis Colts guard Matt Slauson suffered a significant injury during last Thursday’s loss to the New England Patriots that could have been even worse.
Per Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star, Slauson continued to play in the game after suffering two broken vertebrae in his spine during the third quarter and could have been paralyzed.
“I had no idea how close I was to changing my family’s life,” Slauson said.
The Colts announced Monday that Slauson had been placed on injured reserve after he played 88 snaps—including all 83 on offense—against the Patriots.
Indianapolis signed Evan Boehm on Monday to add depth along the offensive line. The unit has been without left tackle Anthony Castonzo all season due to a hamstring injury, and right tackle J’Marcus Webb landed on injured reserve after Week 1 with a hamstring ailment as well.
Slauson signed a one-year deal with the Colts in March. He started each of the team’s first five games.
Now in his ninth NFL season, Slauson has also played with the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers.
Ex-Jet Matt Slauson has called it a career.
The 32-year announced his retirement on Instagram Wednesday after nine seasons in the NFL. He began his career with three seasons in New York before moving on to the Bears, Chargers and Colts. His time with Indianapolis was unfortunately short-lived after he suffered a scary spine injury in October.
“Four organizations and countless friendships,” Slauson wrote. “What an amazing dream this has all been. Thanks to all my teammates who have gone into battle with me, the group of coaches that have made me better on and off the field, the fans that were there no matter what, and especially my wife and kids who supported me through it all. It has been a very difficult decision but we are excited for what the next chapter holds.”
Slauson, a Nebraska product, was drafted in the sixth round by the Jets in 2009. He played both guard and center for New York and started all but three possible games for the Jets. Not bad for a late-round pick.
This past season with the Colts could have been life-changing for Slauson. After being placed on injured reserve, he learned that he had been playing with two broken vertebrae. Doctors told him he was one play away from being paralyzed.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead, Slauson is now walking away from football with his long-term health intact after a surprising but successful career.
On Monday, the Indianapolis Colts placed starting guard Matt Slauson on injured reserve with an unspecified injury. Slauson played all 83 offensive snaps in the team’s loss to the Patriots last week, and his injury was only apparent after the game. As it turns out, he had been playing since early in the third quarter with a pair of spinal fractures. The Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer has the terrifying details.
Slauson said today that he still feels healthy, though the risk of paralysis is obviously serious enough that he will be out for the year. There were plenty of plays in the second half of last week’s game that Slauson could have been permanently injured on without knowing why, and he also said playing through the pain was “not one of my smartest decisions.”
Slauson, 32, will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the Colts have asked him to stick around the team and help out the offensive line for the rest of the season. Hopefully he’ll be healthy enough this offseason to get a new contract.
Colts offensive lineman Matt Slauson is out for the season, but he’s incredibly lucky to only be on injured reserve.
On Wednesday — six days after he was on the field for all 88 possible snaps against the Patriots and two days after the Colts placed him on injured reserve out of nowhere — Slauson revealed that he played nearly the entire second half of Thursday night’s game with two broken vertebrae in his spine. He acknowledged that he was a play away from paralysis. He just didn’t know it at the time.
“I felt like if I could stand, I could play,” he said, per the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer.
It was only afterward when he realized how close he came to a life-altering injury.
“I had no idea how close I was to changing my family’s life,” he said.
Slauson added that, “It does me no good to wrestle over (what could have happened), but I’ll be honest, it’s really hard not to think about it.”
Slauson, who entered the NFL in 2009, has played for a number of teams, from the Jets to the Bears to the Chargers and now the Colts. At 32 years old, he’s nearing the end of his playing days. He played in only seven games last year and five games this year. And his contract with the Colts is set to expire after the season. From a health perspective, he’ll be reevaluated in January.
If he does return to the field, Slauson indicated he’d like to return to the Colts next year. And the Colts appear to value his role as a mentor.
Without Slauson, the Colts will likely turn to rookie Braden Smith to fill his void at right guard. Smith, taken in the second round, will be playing alongside first-round pick and starting left guard Quenton Nelson. The Colts might want Slauson back as a mentor, but the youth movement is already taking over as they try to provide Andrew Luck with the protection he deserves.
So far this season, the 1-4 Colts own the sixth-best pass-blocking offensive line, according to Football Outsiders. Last year, they finished dead last.
Matt Slauson’s story could have ended much worse. His move from the roster to injured reserve caught most by surprise after the miserable spectacle that was the Thursday Night football game. There was not a lot of information readily available, but it is now known that in the 3rd quarter of the game, Slauson broke two vertebrae in his spine. He played the remainder of the game.
My first reaction to hearing that is that Matt Slauson’s toughness can never be challenged again. Anyone who can break two vertebrae and then just rub some dirt on it and resume hitting 300lb men is a tougher human being than anyone I know. I for one am greatly relieved that he didn’t suffer a worse injury during that time that could have paralyzed him. He seems to have realized in retrospect what a foolish decision it was to keep playing after the injury, although he obviously didn’t know the extent of it at the time.
The loss of Slauson is big for the Colts’ offensive line as well. He has done a good job holding down the right guard spot, and while he hasn’t been perfect, his toughness, attitude, and leadership have been important in establishing a culture on this young offensive line that stresses the importance of keeping Andrew Luck upright.
It is worth noting that the Colts asked him to stick around to be at practices and for preparation. Though he was signed to only a 1-year deal, the team wanted him to be an influencer on this roster. There is more to what has changed along this line than simply Matt Slauson’s influence, but it certainly has been something that the coaches feel is valuable.
This kind of story just goes to show what players are laying on the line out there on the football field for our entertainment. Despite the league’s best attempts to make this game safer, it is a violent sport that has long term serious effects on the human body. Some of those changes have been good for the game and others not so much.
It is hard to know if playing on a short week could contribute to this kind of injury. More than likely it is just the result of a freak accident. All the same, it is good that the story doesn’t have a much uglier end.