Health, consistency continue to slow Colts OL Hugh Thornton

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Hugh Thornton will head into training camp not knowing how much playing time he’ll get for the third straight season.

Thornton's rookie season -- 2013 -- originally was going to be a learning one for him while playing behind guards Donald Thomas and Mike McGlynn. Thomas went down in Week 2, thrusting Thornton into the starting lineup the rest of the season.

Thomas went into last training camp healthy and as the front-runner to start at right guard. But Thomas' season -- and Thornton's role -- changed when the veteran went down with a torn quad during training camp, ending his season early for the second straight year.

Thomas wasn't cleared during the eight weeks of offseason workouts and Jack Mewhort was shifted from guard to right tackle during that period. So that meant Thornton would work with the first unit at one of the guard spots the majority of the offseason, right?


Veteran Todd Herremans was with the first unit at right guard and Thornton and Lance Louis rotated with the first unit at left guard.

“Every year is huge,” Thornton said. “I’ve got to earn a spot on this roster. Ultimately I want to earn a spot playing. I’m a team guy. Whatever they need me to play, want me to play, I’ll play it to the best of my ability. Obviously injures are a huge part of the game. We’ve got some depth at offensive line now where we have a bunch of starters battling for one spot.”

The Colts also have Joe Reitz and Ben Heenan to go with Herremans, Thornton and Louis at guard. The competition will be even steeper when Mewhort moves back to guard once starting right tackle Gosder Cherilus is healthy.

Consistency and health are the two things that continue to slow Thornton down. The Colts know Thornton still has plenty of potential, but it frustrates them that he doesn’t maximize it on a regular basis.

Thornton only played eight games last season because of ankle, knee and shoulder injuries.

“It’s frustrating,” Thornton said. “My goal last year, and anybody’s goal, is to play consistent, but when you’re physically unable it hinders your consistency on a week-to-week basis. The biggest thing is to stay healthy and focus on the fundamentals and do my job to the best of my abilities.”