Joe Reitz gets shot to fill in for Castonzo

INDIANAPOLIS -- Joe Reitz, who didn’t play football in college, entered the NFL as a tackle back in 2008. That move barely lasted two years before the Indianapolis Colts moved him back to guard in 2010.

The Colts weren’t done moving Reitz.

They shifted him back to tackle before training camp last month because they were looking for a “swing tackle.”

With left tackle Anthony Castonzo’s recent knee injury, Reitz will be responsible for protecting quarterback Andrew Luck’s blind side.

For how long?

That’s anybody’s guess.

It could be for one or two series in Thursday’s preseason finale at Cincinnati if Luck even plays, or it could be in Week 1 against Oakland if Castonzo’s mildly sprained MCL isn’t completely healed.

Castonzo and the Colts are optimistic he’ll be ready for the Sept. 8 opener.

“We preach ‘next man up’ around here,” Reitz said. “You always hate to see anybody get injured, especially AC, he’s such a great guy. Happy to hear it’s not too serious. I was just excited to go in there and prepare like a starter, because you’re always one play away.”

The Colts like Reitz’s size -- 6-7, 323 pounds -- at tackle. They believe his skill set helps him at that position. Reitz was a college basketball player at Western Michigan. The Colts wanted to move him back to tackle sooner, but they didn’t have depth on the offensive line in the past.

Now Reitz is auditioning to be the team’s swing tackle.

“Just still evaluating that position and still looking for a swing tackle,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Joe is a big, athletic guy, and we wanted to throw him in the mix with Bradley (Sowell) and (Jeff Linkenbach) and the other guys to find out who that swing guy is. Obviously we feel great about (Gosder Cherilus) at right tackle and AC on the left, but you’ve got to have a swing tackle.”

Don’t ask Reitz, who has started in 17 of the 20 games he's apperaaed in with the Colts, if he prefers one over the other, because he doesn’t have a concrete answer.

It’s a matter of doing whatever is necessary to prove he’s worthy of being on the roster.

“There are harder things at both,” Reitz said. “Obviously at tackle on the edge, a lot of times you’re one-on-one with the defensive end. But when you go in there at guard and you’re blocking the Vince Wilfork’s of the world. That’s not necessarily an easy job either.”