Pagano: Starters won't lose job to injury

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts offensive line had its best protection game of the season when it didn’t give up a sack against the Cincinnati Bengals with two backups starting at guard.

That's a significant step for the offensive line when you think about how inconsistent the group has been this season.

“They did a heck of a job,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “There was a pressure here and there, but zero sacks. Again, pretty formidable front that we went against. Thirty-six sacks coming in, that group had. Coming off the game before I thought those guys really stepped up and did some really good things. Moving forward, it’s going to hopefully pay dividends.”

There may be some more changes along the line when they play the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.

Rookie guard Hugh Thornton, who missed the Cincinnati game with a neck injury, returned to practice Wednesday, but starting center Samson Satele missed practice with an elbow injury. Mike McGlynn, who moved back into the starting lineup at guard, worked at center in practice.

The Colts had their best rushing game of the season – 184 yards – and only gave up one sack with McGlynn at center against San Francisco in Week 3.

The Colts are in a position of trying to gain momentum heading into the playoffs, so having a whatever-it-takes mentality would be understandable. But Pagano doesn’t believe a player should lose his starting job because of an injury.

So expect Thornton to start at guard and McGlynn to go back to the bench if Satele is able to play against the Texans. Joe Reitz wlll start at the other guard spot.

“I don’t think since we’ve been here, nobody’s ever really lost their job because of injury,” Pagano said. “So if a guy gets injured and somebody else goes in, when he’s healthy, he gets his job back.”