INDIANAPOLIS – It took 15 weeks into the season but the biggest preseason worry for the Colts has hit them at the most critical part of the year.
After having just 2 players on the COVID list for the first 14 weeks of the season, the Colts had 7 guys go on it this past week.
All 7 missed Saturday’s win over Arizona.
Their absences could linger through next week’s home finale against the Raiders, particularly with many of those guys having been unvaccinated earlier this year.
The 7 players who missed Saturday’s game in Arizona due to COVID were as followed: Quenton Nelson, Mark Glowinski, Zach Pascal, Kemoko Turay, Darius Leonard, Rock Ya-Sin and Khari Willis.
With the Colts finding out about Leonard, Pascal and Willis missing the Cardinals game on Saturday morning, that sent the coaching staff into scramble mode, with those players now having to travel back to Indy separately from the team plane.
It’s possible that the likes of Nelson, Leonard, Willis and Pascal could miss the Raiders game, too, with the absence of unvaccinated players in the 10-to-14 day range for a positive test. Although, Pascal’s vaccination status has appeared to change since earlier this season.
For vaccinated players, their time missed due to a positive test can be much shorter.
It’s why Jim Irsay didn’t hold back in July when vehemently stressing the desire for players to get vaccinated.
“You have to make a choice. You have to decide. Am I in this to win a championship and what price am I willing to pay? That’s what this really comes down to,” the Owner said.
While a vaccinated player can obviously still test positive for COVID, the time missed for them versus an unvaccinated player is substantially different.
That’s why some people had concern over the Colts—given one of the lowest vaccination numbers in the league and with so many prominent players electing not to get vaxxed—making the playoffs this season.
It took quite a while for that concern to actually show up, but it’s here as the Colts play games with major playoff implications at stake.
Now, on Saturday night, the Colts overcame this situation and earned their 9th win of the season, pushing them to the verge of a playoff berth.
Toss in injuries to Eric Fisher (knee) and Jack Doyle (ankle) on Saturday will mean the depth tested against the Cardinals will be there again next week versus the Raiders.
“I just feel like the teams that can handle the COVID-19 situation are going to be the ones that pull ahead and get into the playoffs, to be honest,” DeForest Buckner said after the road victory in Arizona.
“There’s key players all around the league (out). You saw us (on Saturday) with key players out. It’s all about your depth.”
The Colts passed that test on the road Saturday.
They will have it tested again next Sunday in the home finale.