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INDIANAPOLIS – There is serious doubt on whether or not the Colts will have their best player this Sunday against the Titans.

On Wednesday afternoon, DT-DeForest Buckner was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Unless this test proves to be a false positive, it’s unlikely Buckner would play this Sunday against the Titans.

Even if Buckner is deemed a close contact to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, he would have to miss 5 days and continue to test negative. The Colts play the Titans this Sunday though.

Bucker is the third Colts player to go on the COVID-19 list this regular season. DL-Denico Autry (who is still on that list) and LB-Matthew Adams are the others. Like Buckner, Adams was placed on the list back on a Wednesday (November 11th) and he did not return until the following Monday (November 16th).

If Buckner tested positive (which would have occurred on a Tuesday morning test), his absence will range anywhere from 10 to 14 days.

The Colts could be down arguably their top two defensive linemen against the Titans, with Autry’s availability for Sunday still up in the air.

Autry tested positive for COVID-19 last week and missed the win over the Packers. If Autry had symptoms, his absence would be 14 days. If he was asymptomatic, he would have to miss 10 days, still giving him a chance to play against the Titans. Earlier this week, Frank Reich would not say if Autry was symptomatic or asymptomatic. Autry initially missed last Thursday’s practice due to an illness, so that would indicate he had symptoms leading into his positive test. On Wednesday, Reich said there was no update on Autry’s status when asked about the defensive lineman.

Obviously, the loss of Buckner would be immense, especially in such a critical game, against a run-heavy team with Derrick Henry.

Buckner has played an absurd 81 percent of defensive snaps this season (19 percent more than any other Colts defensive lineman). He’s missed 1 NFL game since entering the league in 2016.

Options the Colts could turn to without Buckner would be Taylor Stallworth, who is more of a nose tackle, but could come in handy against a run-oriented team like the Titans. Tyquan Lewis is another name. Lewis has played 3-technique before, although he’s not the same run player as some of the other DTs.

Rookie Rob Windsor made his NFL debut last week as a practice squad call-up. Fellow rookie DT-Chris Williams and DT-Kameron Cline are other interior defensive linemen on the practice squad. The team released DT-Sheldon Day last week.

Nevertheless, Grover Stewart and a by committee approach is the likely plan for the Colts if Buckner (and/or Autry) has to miss Sunday’s contest.

This situation is even more complicated when you factor in Autry’s unknown status.

When Autry tested positive last week, the Colts initially held 3 defensive linemen out of practice for precautionary reasons (Stewart, Lewis and Al-Quadin Muhammad), but Buckner wasn’t one of them. Autry went on the COVID-19 list last Friday.

For what it’s worth, the Colts were not in full intensive protocol on Wednesday, still holding meetings in-person and having practice as normal. That would seem to be a good sign that they feel the Buckner situation is isolated.

The Colts will be off on Thursday due to Thanksgiving and then have their final practice of the week on Friday.

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