Colts place six more players on COVID-19 list, bringing total to 14 in the past week

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Frank Reich
    Frank Reich
    American football player and coach
  • Carson Wentz
    Carson Wentz
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Quenton Nelson
    Quenton Nelson
    American football player
  • Mark Glowinski
    Mark Glowinski
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Khari Willis
    Khari Willis
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|

INDIANAPOLIS — A Colts team that has been ravaged by COVID-19 is still in the midst of an outbreak as the week of preparation for the Las Vegas Raiders begins.

Indianapolis placed right tackle Braden Smith, running back Marlon Mack, cornerback T.J. Carrie, safety Jahleel Addae, linebacker Malik Jefferson and practice squad cornerback Chris Wilcox on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday morning, making it 14 Colts who have been placed on the list since last week.

All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, right guard Mark Glowinski, safety Khari Willis, cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, wide receiver Zach Pascal, defensive end Kemoko Turay and practice squad tight end Farrod Green were placed on the list last week.

"This is something every team is dealing with," Colts head coach Frank Reich said. "We’ll continue to deal with it in a responsible manner – always the next-man-up mentality. We talked about it as a team last week, every man in this building needs to be ready to play winning football."

To Reich's point, the Raiders have their own COVID-19 issues.

Las Vegas opened the day with five players on the reserve/COVID-19 list and placed six more players on the list Monday, including the team's top four linebackers.

Faced with a long list of players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the Colts might be making changes to their week of work in preparation for the Raiders.

"It could be all virtual meetings this week, looking like," Reich said. "And then players just come in for practice.”

Unless the NFL changes its rules to reflect new CDC guidelines shortening the quarantine period for infected individuals, the Colts could bear a heavier load than other teams. Because the Colts are one of the least vaccinated teams in the NFL — Leonard, Nelson, Pascal and others were unvaccinated in August — some of their players must sit out at least 10 days before returning to the lineup. Under NFL rules, a vaccinated player may return earlier than 10 days if he tests negative twice 24 hours apart, or if the viral load in his body falls below a certain threshold.

For example, vaccinated linebacker Zaire Franklin tested positive after the bye week, but he did not miss a game because he tested out of the protocol in time to play against the Patriots. Leonard, who was open about his decision to not get vaccinated, is expected to miss both the Cardinals game and the Raiders game.

"There are a few players that we could get back," Reich said. "I’m not going to go into individual names of who is, and who could and who couldn’t be, but there are some that we could get back.”

A COVID outbreak might be the only thing that could potentially keep the Colts from finishing off their remarkable comeback from a 1-4 start to make the playoffs.

Indianapolis is currently the No. 5 seed in the AFC at 9-6, and a win over Las Vegas on Sunday would clinch a playoff berth. But a thin roster depleted by COVID-19 could make that difficult, even after the Colts overcame absences to beat Arizona on the road on Christmas night. Based on the way COVID-19 has ripped through NFL rosters — the Colts are the 15th team to place at least seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list since Dec. 8 — Indianapolis could be facing more positive tests before the end of the week.

And it goes without saying that starting quarterback Carson Wentz is the player to watch.

Wentz is unvaccinated, and unlike vaccinated players, the Colts starter must test for COVID-19 every day. If Wentz tests positive, he’ll have to miss 10 days, and Indianapolis would be forced to rely on either rookie Sam Ehlinger or veteran Brett Hundley, provided those players also did not test positive.

Indianapolis is already thin in a couple of critical positions.

An offensive line that played most of Saturday night’s win without four of its starters has now lost the fifth; Smith has worn a mask in interviews and indoors all season. Glowinski and Nelson’s timetables for return are uncertain, but it’s possible the Colts could get one or both of their starting guards back for the Raiders game.

Two other Colts linemen remain up in the air because of issues that are not COVID-related. Left tackle Eric Fisher, who was infected by COVID-19 during training camp, left Saturday night’s game with a knee injury, and center Ryan Kelly has missed the last two games to be with his family following the tragic death of his infant daughter, Mary Kate. Colts head coach Frank Reich has said the team will give Kelly all the time he needs before asking him to return to the field, and Indianapolis has not updated Fisher’s injury status yet.

More: Colts are giving Ryan Kelly all the time he needs before returning to football

More: Colts center Ryan Kelly missed the Patriots game after death of his daughter

Barring more positive tests, the Colts do have experienced depth available on the offensive line. Tackles Matt Pryor and Julién Davenport, guard Chris Reed and center Danny Pinter have all started at least three games this season.

Indianapolis is in a difficult spot at safety.

Willis, who declined to say if he’d been vaccinated, could miss Sunday’s game due to COVID-19, and Addae and Carrie, emergency options at the position, are now also on the list. Veteran Andrew Sendejo, who has started 10 games this season, remains in the concussion protocol. Fourth-year safety George Odum is currently the only available safety on the active roster.

But the way the virus is spreading through the team, it’s possible there will be many more personnel moves to make before Sunday’s home game against the Raiders.

"This is what we prepare for, for hitting adversity like this, things you don’t expect, but this is probably in the category of something that we could expect and that it would just be a matter of time before it was going to hit us," Reich said. "We just need to continue to focus at a very high level. Can’t allow this to be a distraction, understand how important it is and let’s just stay focused on what we have to do.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts place six more players on COVID-19 list, up to 14 in past week

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting