Rookie Thornton to make his first start

INDIANAPOLIS -- The transition was supposed to be a slow one for Indianapolis Colts rookie guard Hugh Thornton.

Thornton was eventually expected to start, but there wasn’t a rush for that to happen with Donald Thomas and Mike McGlynn manning the left and right guard spots, respectively.

But then Thomas, who the Colts signed to a four-year, $14-million contract in the offseason, went down in the first half with a season-ending quadricep injury against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.

Enter Thornton, the team’s third-round draft choice.

“It’s unfortunate, Donald has been my mentor,” Thornton said. “I have to be able to step up and help the team when my number is called. I have to get better at my technique. Physically I’m a firm believer I can play with these guys. But as far as experience goes, there are things I need to work on to make up for the lack of experience, especially going against veteran d-linemen.”

Thornton was a solid, but he also looked like a rookie, which was expected against the Dolphins. He couldn’t stop Miami’s Randy Stark on their final offensive snap of the game.

“It’s never going to be perfect, especially for a rookie getting his first significant amount of time,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “He did a nice job. He’ll only get better. He’s a smart guy. He’s a tough guy. He’s a powerful, powerful man.”

Thornton’s first career start this weekend isn’t coming against the Washington Redskins, who have the worst defense in the league. It’s against a physical San Francisco 49ers defense.

“He’s only, with every game experience from here on out, he’s only going to get better,” Pagano said. “Got a few things to clean up, but a great start for him.”