The Colts have placed DeForest Buckner on the reserve/COVID-19 list, according to a team announcement. This could be an especially difficult blow, as Indianapolis will take on the Titans in a battle for first place in the AFC South on Sunday.
At this point, it’s unclear if Buckner tested positive or if he is considered a close contact with someone who did. If he tested positive, he is guaranteed to miss the matchup with Tennessee, though if his placement on the list is due to a close contact, he may be back on the field on Sunday (depending on when the contact occurred and his test results in the coming days).
Indianapolis pulled off one of the biggest blockbusters of this offseason in acquiring Buckner, as it shipped a first-round pick to the 49ers in exchange for one of the game’s premier interior defenders and signed him to a massive $21MM/year extension. And Buckner has not disappointed, as Pro Football Focus currently ranks him fifth among all interior D-linemen, including an especially high pass-rush grade (though he has generated just 2.5 sacks on the season).
PFF is not quite as bullish on his run defense, but it still considers him an above-average performer in that regard. And the Colts will need all the run support they can get against Titans’ RB Derrick Henry, who rushed for 103 yards on just 19 carries against Indy two weeks ago.
Buckner joins fellow DL Denico Autry on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and as Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets, Autry’s status for Sunday’s game is still unclear. If the Colts are without both players, they will need monster performances from players like Tyquan Lewis and Grover Stewart to contain Henry.
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