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INDIANAPOLIS — Anthony Castonzo recently decided the beard-mustache combination that covered a good percentage of his face just wasn’t doing it.
A new look would be preferred, but what exactly?
Welcome to the Fu Manchu version of the Indianapolis Colts’ starting left tackle, who wears his reddish-brown inverted “U” with immense pride.
It’s a look that virtually screams “lineman,” not that Castonzo needed assistance in that department. At 6-foot-7, 315 pounds, the 2011 first-round selection is among the franchise’s tallest players (the 6-7 fraternity includes three teammates) as well as one of its heaviest.
Given the pressures that come with his job — primarily protecting the blindside of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck — it’s good to maintain a sense of humor.
So the Fu Manchu it is, at least until Castonzo, 24, perhaps motivated by the impending colder temperatures, elects to just put his razors in a drawer until spring.
A variety of factors can be credited for the Colts’ surprising 4-3 start, the steadiness of the line Castonzo anchors among them. Indianapolis, for the most part, has given Luck ample time in the pocket while making sure to create running avenues for backs Donald Brown, Vick Ballard and Delone Carter.
The void created by future Ring of Honor recipient Jeff Saturday’s move to Green Bay made it look as though an offense that ranked 30th in the league in total offense, 27th in passing yardage and 26th in rushing in 2011 might struggle even more this time out.
But that hasn’t happened. After seven games, the Colts’ offense rates ninth, ninth and 17th, respectively, in those categories.
“Everyone is kind of the leader out there, helping each other out,” Castonzo said. “They expect me to play like a first-rounder, but I’m not really a vocal guy. I just kind of put my nose to the grindstone and play.”
Much was expected of Castonzo when Indianapolis used the 22nd selection in the 2011 NFL Draft on him. It was insurance that an aging Peyton Manning remain vertical, which now sounds strange considering the former Boston College lineman never once got the opportunity to block for Manning.
He blocked for Kerry Collins. He blocked for Curtis Painter. He blocked for Dan Orlovsky. And now he blocks for Luck, one of four rookies to start on offense for the Colts in their 19-13 overtime victory at Tennessee.
Even more impressive is the Colts piling up a hearty portion of their 171 rushing yards during what was the winning drive.
“We felt comfortable with the run all day, so to be able to do it in overtime was nice,” said Castonzo, who nonetheless feels there remains work to do. “We just got done watching that Tennessee film, and we’re not even close to our potential. I don’t think it’s a fluke, though.
“We thought we were going to be a winning football team.”
A few more W’s and Castonzo might just be tempted to sit down with guards Jeff Linkenbach and Mike McGlynn, center Samson Satele and right tackle Winston Justice to come up with something to call the offensive line — a moniker that’s imposing and catchy at the same time.
The Fu Fighters? Fu Men Through? Fu and A Half Men? Fu For Thought?
Of course, it only works if Castonzo retains his current look and then talks his teammates into joining him. Hopefully, a good silk-screener has been put on notice.
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