September 26th, 2021 at 10:14am CST by Zachary Links
The Colts will start Carson Wentz today against the Titans (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). This marks a shockingly fast turnaround for the quarterback, who suffered injuries to both of his ankles last week.
Wentz told reporters on Wednesday that he was “throwing the kitchen sink” at his injured ankles in hopes of getting ready. Then, he managed to return to practice on Friday and got through his drills without any setbacks. Still, he had to practice with his ankles heavily taped, so backup Jacob Eason will go into today’s game ready to play, if necessary. Brett Hundley has also been elevated from the practice squad in case of emergency.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for the Colts so far. Now 0-2, they’ve already allowed Wentz to absorb six sacks. He enters today’s game with 498 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
On the other side of the ball, they’ll have support from newly promoted defensive tackle Antwuan Woods. Woods, 28, played on 57% of the Cowboys’ snaps in 2018 and worked as a full-time starter. The former UDFA started 10 games in 2019 but saw his role reduced during a woeful Dallas defensive season in 2020. He could have an opportunity to shine again as he takes linebacker Jordan Glasgow‘s spot on the active roster.
September 24th, 2021 at 11:27am CST by Zachary Links
A welcome surprise for the Colts. Quarterback Carson Wentz returned to practice on Friday, which means he could potentially play on Sunday against the Titans.
Wentz was forced out in the fourth quarter against the Rams on Sunday, when his right ankle visibly twisted beneath defensive lineman Aaron Donald. Meanwhile, his left ankle was also sprained, which signaled that he’d be out for one game, at minimum.
“He rolled it up pretty bad,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said earlier this week. “I had a sense when he walked off the field. It didn’t look good. Sometimes if you go back in right away when it’s still warm you can maybe gut out a few more plays. The longer we were off the field, it stiffened up and he tried, but there was no chance.”
The Colts won’t rush Wentz back to the field, so Jacob Eason could still be in line to start this week. Beyond them, Brett Hundley stands as the next QB up with Sam Ehlinger on injured reserve.
September 20th, 2021 at 9:55am CST by Zachary Links
Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is dealing injuries to both of his ankles (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport). Wentz will undergo tests today to learn more, but this doesn’t bode well for his future availability.
Wentz was forced out in the fourth quarter against the Rams on Sunday. That’s when his right ankle twisted underneath Aaron Donald.
“He rolled it up pretty bad,” Colts coach Frank Reich said (via ESPN.com). “I had a sense when he walked off the field. It didn’t look good. Sometimes if you go back in right away when it’s still warm you can maybe gut out a few more plays. The longer we were off the field, it stiffened up and he tried, but there was no chance.”
Now, we know that Wentz’s left ankle is also in bad shape. Second-year quarterback Jacob Eason — who stepped in and went on to lob an interception — will likely start for the Colts in Week 3 and possibly longer.
“Felt it right away. Tried to tape it up and do everything I could to finish the game,” Wentz said. “I’ve sprained my ankle probably 100 times since I was a kid. This one I just couldn’t play on it.”
The Colts, now at 0-2, badly need to get in the win column. They’ll likely be without Wentz on Sunday when they face the Titans in Nashville. After that, they’ve got two more road games before they return home to Indy.
Wentz underwent surgery on August 2 to deal with an old broken bone in his foot that had chipped and splintered. The Colts initially announced a vague five- to 12-week timetable, and according to Pelissero and Rapoport, the wide range of possible return dates was because no one knew until Wentz went under the knife what type of surgery he would require.
If doctors needed to insert a screw to secure the splintered piece of bone, Wentz would have missed two to three months. Luckily, the bone fragment was simply removed, and Wentz’s recovery proceeded without complications.
Head coach Frank Reich said Wentz will not be limited in any way, though the offensive play-calling may be just a bit more conservative than it normally would be.
“As far as what he can do, he can do everything,” Reich said. “What will we actually call? Will we keep the reins on a little bit? Probably. Probably so. I just think that makes sense. I just think we’ll manage it. We’ll be smart.”
Wentz will be protected by All-World left guard Quenton Nelson, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Nelson underwent foot surgery of his own in August, but he subsequently battled a back issue that put his Week 1 status in doubt.
Unfortunately, left tackle Eric Fisher will not suit up today, as Schefter notes in a separate tweet. That means Julie’n Davenport will be protecting Wentz’s blind side.
More good news for the Colts’ foot-injury ward. Both Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson are set to be back at practice Monday, according to Frank Reich.
While each will be back on the field in a limited capacity, this news bodes well for the prospect of each starting the season on time. This possibility emerged last week, and nothing has taken place to indicate that was an overly optimistic timetable. Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly will also be back at practice Monday, per Reich. Kelly has been out with an elbow injury.
Both Wentz and Nelson underwent foot surgeries in early August. The Colts initially announced a vague five- to 12-week timetable for Wentz, with the latter outcome thrusting the likes of Jacob EasonandSam Ehlingerinto the spotlight. Indianapolis may soon be off the hook from having to use either as a September spot starter, though Wentz missing extensive training camp time certainly hurts as he prepares to start for a new team.
Nelson, who has never missed a game as a Colt, has emerged as perhaps the NFL’s premier guard. He is 3-for-3 in first-team All-Pro appearances; no other post-merger offensive lineman has accomplished that feat. Nelson will be on track for a record-setting extension come 2022, with the Colts having already taken care of 2018 draftees Darius Leonard and Braden Smith.
The Colts are currently battling issues on their O-line, which has just Smith and Mark Glowinski healthy among the team’s optimal first-string quintet. But with Nelson and Kelly on their way back, Eric Fisher‘s timeline would be the only uncertain matter on the Colts’ offensive front.
Great news for the Colts. Quarterback Carson Wentz is “trending” to play in the season opener against the Seahawks (Twitter link via Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com). Ditto for All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson, who also underwent foot surgery.
Things were looking bleak for the Colts just a few days ago as both players were projected to miss a chunk of September. Nothing’s certain just yet, but it appears that Wentz and Nelson will be good to go after all. With Wentz under center, Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger will no longer have to cram for the QB1 role — the youngsters are now back to competing for the backup job.
Nelson, meanwhile, should be able to man LG to start the year. Now, the Colts just need more good news on the rest of their front five. Center Ryan Kelly is still nursing an elbow injury that’s keeping him off the practice field while new left tackle Eric Fisher is working his way back from an Achilles tear. Fortunately, Kelly’s elbow issue doesn’t seem all that serious and the latest word on Fisher is promising, even though there’s no timeline for his full return just yet.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him – just watching a couple of his workouts with our trainers working him out, I think he looks really good,” head coach Frank Reich said this week. “In fact, I saw him doing something the other day and I yelled over, ‘Put some pads on him!’ I thought he looked that good.”
The Colts hope to have all three lineman healthy with support — not spot starts — from Chris Reed and Sam Tevi.
7:45pm: As Holder reports, Wentz was at practice today with no protection on his foot and no obvious limp. Reich called Wentz’s outlook “very encouraging,” and regardless of how the Ehlinger/Eason battle plays out, it doesn’t sound like either young passer will be holding the reins too long.
12:32pm: The Colts have thus far opted against acquiring a veteran to run their offense while Carson Wentz rehabs, and the team will begin giving rookie Sam Ehlingera longer look to fill the post.
Ehlinger has worked his way into the mix here, with Frank Reich indicating Tuesday (via The Athletic’s Stephen Holder, on Twitter) the sixth-round pick has looked good enough in practice to split first-team reps with Jacob Eason. Eason will start the Colts’ first preseason game, but Reich adds (via ESPN.com’s Mike Wells, on Twitter) the second-year QB and Ehlinger will split starter reps in the team’s joint practices against the Panthers on Thursday and Friday.
While Ehlinger has outplayed Eason during Colts camp, this does mark a bit of a change from the team’s view of its current quarterback situation. Reich said last week Eason would remain in the driver’s seat for the role, despite Ehlinger impressing early. Now, the two appear to be in a true competition.
A four-year starter at Texas, Ehlinger was the 10th quarterback off the board this year. The No. 218 overall pick does bring considerably more game work than Eason, who transferred from Georgia to Washington but declared for the draft after one season as the Huskies’ starter. Ehlinger threw 1,476 passes with the Longhorns. Eason, Georgia’s primary starter in 2016, attempted 782 in college. The latter, however, was viewed slightly better through an NFL lens and became a 2020 fourth-round pick. Eason has yet to take a snap in a game, with the COVID-19 pandemic nixing last year’s preseason slate and Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett ahead of him on Indy’s 2020 depth chart.
This year’s Colts QB hierarchy may involve Wentz in the not-too-distant future. Initially given a vague five- to 12-week timetable to recover from foot surgery, Wentz will be re-evaluated in two weeks, per Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, who adds the Colts are expecting him to return on the front end of this timetable (video link). As of now, the team envisions its preferred starter to be back early in the season.
The Colts could stash Wentz on IR to start the year, carrying him onto their 53-man roster and parking him on the injured list for at least three weeks. However, Wentz hitting the front end of his rehab timetable would likely induce the Colts to keep him on their active roster and play this week-to-week.
[RELATED: Carson Wentz To Have Surgery, Out 5-12 Weeks]
The reporter notes that Wentz could begin rehabbing his foot after two weeks and “hasn’t been ruled out” for Week 1 (although he admits this is an optimistic timeline). Mortensen opines that if the “relatively safe surgery and rehab” happens to go awry, then the team could reconsider a trade for a quarterback. The organization did provide a rather wide timeline for Wentz’s return, with head coach Frank Reich suggesting that the recent acquisition could be back within five to 12 weeks. The early side of that timeline could see Wentz on the field against the Seahawks to begin the year.
Following news of Wentz’s impending foot surgery, we learned that the Colts wouldn’t be pursuing a trade for Foles, who’s currently buried on the Bears depth chart. It makes sense that the sentiment would apply to other signal callers; Minshew and Mariota wouldn’t be available for cheap, and the Colts front office probably isn’t willing to give up assets for what could end up being a backup.
With Wentz temporarily sidelined, the Colts will instead move ahead with their collection of backups. 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason should see a larger role, although it’s worth noting that the quarterback has barely seen the field in three of the past four years (including his time in college). The Colts also recently added Brett Hundley, but the veteran hasn’t started a game since he went 3-6 in nine games with the Packers in 2017.