INDIANAPOLIS — Matt Slauson doesn't feel like a hero, and he certainly doesn't want to be painted as one.
The veteran right guard was placed on injured reserve Monday, ending his first season with the Colts after just five weeks.
It was later revealed he damaged two vertebrae in his back early in the third quarter Thursday night at New England but still finished the game.
“It wasn't my smartest moment,” he said Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
The 32-year-old has long been respected for his physicality and rugged demeanor. But this time, he believes he went too far.
Though he was not aware at the time of the extent of his injury, the husband and father admits now it's tough to watch tape from the Patriots game.
Doctors do not believe the injury will require surgery but are continuing their evaluation. Slauson now realizes he was potentially one more hit away from serious damage.
“I'm just very happy and very thankful that nothing more came of it,” he said. “I get very upset at myself when I watch the film, just thinking about what could have been.”
Ironically, Slauson feels fine.
His body feels ready to head back on the field and compete, but his mind knows better.
So he's finding other ways to contribute to the team. At the afternoon practice, he stood with the offensive line coaches and helped put his teammates through their drills.
“Obviously, we are going to miss him a lot,” center Ryan Kelly said. “A guy who is really good with rookies and teaching younger guys certain things, and it just comes from experience. I think this is his 10th year. Obviously, we are going to miss the heck out of him, but he’s not going to go anywhere. He’s going to be around. He’s a great locker-room guy.”
Meanwhile, the Colts prepare to start their fifth different offensive line combo in the first six weeks.
Rookie Braden Smith, who played solidly at right tackle against New England, could move back to his natural guard position to replace Slauson. In that scenario, returning Anthony Castonzo and Denzelle Good would be the starters at left and right tackle, respectively.
“I think it’s going to be hard to replace him, but you know, like I said, next guy up,” Kelly said. “We have done it with tackles, we will do it with guards now. So that’s just the league — that’s just the way it is.”
The Colts are set to reunite with a trio of former teammates on Sunday in New York.
Offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison joined the Jets in 2017 after three seasons with Indianapolis. Defensive lineman Henry Anderson was traded to New York during the draft in April, and defensive end Tarell Basham was claimed by the Jets off waivers last week.
“That’s also the nature of the NFL,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “When you get to your seventh, eighth season you start having friends teammates — folks that you went through some tough times and good times with — on the opposite side of the ball. So it will be fun to see Henry before the game, after the game but during the game he is a Jet, I am a Colt. I think it will be like that way for everybody.”
Indianapolis likely is facing another week without wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) and tight end Jack Doyle (hip). Others who did not practice Wednesday included defensive lineman Denico Autry (hamstring), safety Matthias Farley (shoulder/groin/wrist), safety Malik Hooker (back), defensive lineman Margus Hunt (knee), linebacker Darius Leonard (ankle) and Kelly (calf).
Cornerback Nate Hairston (concussion) and linebacker Anthony Walker (concussion) returned on a limited basis.
Castonzo (hamstring), running back Marlon Mack (hamstring), cornerback Kenny Moore II (concussion), defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway (calf) and cornerback Quincy Wilson (concussion) were full participants.