INDIANAPOLIS — Anthony Castonzo has been a rock on an ever-shifting beach.
He has started 56 consecutive regular-season games at left tackle for the Colts and has missed just four of their 3,391 offensive snaps since the NFL began charting individual participation in 2012. He was on the field for each of his unit’s 1,190 snaps this season, a league high.
“I take pride in the fact you can count on me to be out there,” said Castonzo, the former Boston College standout. “I’ve had bumps and bruises, things here and there.
“Everybody pretty much plays hurt, but I take pride in being able to grit through a lot of things.”
If only Castonzo’s durability were contagious.
“You wish the other four spots were just like that,” coach Chuck Pagano said.
But the Colts’ injury-riddled offensive line will be a factor in Sunday’s AFC wild-card playoff game against the visiting Bengals. Castonzo will be there, protecting the blind side of quarterback Andrew Luck, as part of the Colts’ 11th combination on the offensive line.
The 10 combinations the Colts used during the regular season were the most among playoff teams. The Panthers had eight, the Patriots seven, the Seahawks six, the Bengals five, and the Lions four.
As has been the case most of the season, injuries will force Joe Gilbert, the Colts’ offensive line coach, to mix and match.
Right tackle Gosder Cherilus, another former BC star, was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list Wednesday with a groin problem, and guard Hugh Thornton (shoulder) is out, too. Center A.Q. Shipley (ankle) is doubtful.
The most likely alignment against the Bengals will place Castonzo at left tackle, rookie Jack Mewhort at left guard, Khaled Holmes at center, Lance Louis, at right guard and Joe Reitz at right tackle. Reitz missed the final three games of the regular season with an ankle injury.
It has not been easy keeping track of who has played what position as the season unfolded. The Colts have started four left guards and right tackles, and three right guards and centers. Reitz has started at left guard, right guard, and right tackle.
The lack of continuity up front contributed to spotty protection for Luck and a hit-and-miss running game in the regular season.
Luck was sacked 27 times and hit more than 90 times, according to NFL game books. The Colts’ running game ranked 22d in yards per game (100.8) and 25th in yards per attempt (3.9).
Many of those problems can be traced to the offensive line, although Luck argues otherwise.
“I don’t think it’s held me back, anybody back,” Luck said. “It’s the nature of the NFL. Things happen; people have to step up.’’