INDIANAPOLIS – Things are progressing in a good direction for the three Colts on the COVID-19 list.
It’s possible that Denico Autry, DeForest Buckner, Jonathan Taylor could all return this week.
The Colts made a decision organizationally not to reveal symptomatic (14-day absence) or asymptomatic (10-day absence) COVID-19 statuses on players, but Reich did offer a bit of an update on those guys during his weekly Monday presser.
“Nobody has had any setbacks,” Reich said of that trio, who missed Sunday’s loss to the Titans. “Everybody is doing well and moving along the path the way they should be to be being active.”
-Autry: It was back on Friday, November 20th that Autry went on the COVID-19 list after missing Thursday’s practice due to an illness (symptoms). Autry has missed two games, but should return this week under that 14-day window (this Friday).
–Buckner: Buckner originally went on the COVID-19 list last Wednesday. If he was asymptomatic with his positive test, Buckner could return this week (10-day absence). If he was symptomatic (14-day absence), he would have to miss a second straight game. The 10-day window might mean that Buckner misses this week of practice though.
–Taylor: Reich did confirm that Taylor was a high-risk close contact to someone who tested positive with COVID-19. Taylor’s return should be just 5 days, meaning he’ll be back to practice this week. Taylor went on the COVID-19 list this past Saturday.
What else did we learn from Reich and the Colts on Monday?
- It sounds like the MCL sprain for Anthony Castonzo will cause him to miss time, but how much is not known just yet. The Colts will determine the severity of the MCL sprain in the coming days and Castonzo’s time missed, but the expectation is it’ll be at least a bit of an absence. “You know how those things go, how many weeks or the exact timetable on that, we have to wait and see how this week falls out,” Reich said on Monday. “It’s really too early to tell.” Remember if Castonzo goes on injured reserve, he’ll miss at least the next 3 games (at Texans, at Raiders, Texans).
- Many have wondered if the Colts would explore moving LG-Quenton Nelson or RT-Braden Smith over to left tackle, with Castonzo likely to miss some time. It should be noted that neither Nelson nor Smith has played left tackle in the NFL or even in college. Reich had this to say when asked about that idea on Monday: “We talk about every scenario. Chris (Ballard) and I were talking about it this morning. We talked about it with the offensive staff. Every option gets discussed. That’s just us doing our due diligence. You have X-number of guys, so you have X-number of combinations, it would just be the responsible and prudent thing to do to look at those combinations and what are the pros and cons to those. That was a discussion.”
- Reich did have some nice things to say about the jobs C-Danny Pinter (who replaced Ryan Kelly) and LT-Le’Raven Clark (who replaced the injured Anthony Castonzo after the second series) did on Sunday. It was Pinter’s first career NFL start: “I thought Danny, especially for being a rookie and the position at center and all of what is required there, I thought he did very well, more than held his own. Showed a lot of good things that Chris and I were talking about this morning.” Reich did say the Colts are ‘fairly optimistic’ that Kelly will return this week from his neck injury. This was Reich’s comments on the play of Clark against the Titans: “I thought Le’Raven did a nice job as well. When Le’Raven first stepped in, there was a series or two I think it took a second, but Le’Raven settled down and then played solid.”
- With the Broncos having to use a practice squad wideout as their actual starting QB on Sunday, it has the entire league buzzing about emergency QB situations. Reich said the Colts have a depth chart of emergency QBs (Zach Pascal? Trey Burton?) and actually bring a wristband of plays for the emergency QB to every game, just in case. Some NFL teams have actually quarantined a quarterback this season, but the Colts have decided not to, even though the idea has been explored. “We’ve actually talked a lot about it. I’ve talked about it with Jacoby. There have been multiple weeks where we’ve thought, ‘Jacoby, stay home and then come in for practice.’ But we haven’t done that just because we feel so confident that we are going above and beyond all the precautions of the protocol, especially in the quarterback room. Because of the nature of that position and how hard it is to replace that position. And then Jacoby (Brissett), and Philip (Rivers) and Jacob (Eason), they know, as quarterbacks, what that means, so they are taking every precaution. I give those guys a lot of credit. So I feel like we can keep everybody in the building because of the responsibility that those guys are putting on their own shoulders.”
- We saw special teamer/linebacker Matt Adams get ejected on Sunday for ‘throwing a punch’ at Titans linebacker Nick Dzubnar while covering a first half punt. Adams took to Twitter on Sunday night to explain the move he was trying to make, stressing that this was not a punch being thrown. Adams called it a ‘simple club football move.’ NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero did report that Adams isn’t expected to be suspended.
- Couple of interesting Next Gen Stat notes from Sunday for the quarterbacks: Compared to his season average, Titans QB-Ryan Tannehill had nearly an extra half second to throw against the Colts. That might not seem like a long time, but it is in the NFL. And it explains the Colts absent pass rush. For Philip Rivers, he was an ugly looking minus 8 in expected completion percentage. That’s an extremely low number for Rivers.
- In extremely sad and unfortunate news, the Colts are searching for a new punter to replace Rigoberto Sanchez for some time. On Monday, Sanchez announced that he’s having surgery on Tuesday to address a cancerous tumor. For more information on that, head here.
- Reich put RB-Jordan Wilkins (ribs) and S-Khari Willis (back, quad) in the ‘pretty banged up’ category after they got hurt during Sunday’s loss. Toss those on the injury watch list for this week.
- The Colts will get back to their on-field practice schedule this week, going Wednesday, Thursday and again on Friday afternoon before taking on the Texans at 1:00 PM this Sunday, in Houston.