It hasn't been a great day for Colts injury news, and perhaps the most significant piece of injury news was that wide receiver LaVon Brazill - who missed practice yesterday with a foot injury - was in a walking boot today.
WR LaVon Brazill not practicing on Thursday. Right foot in a boot.— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) December 12, 2013
The injury to Brazill leaves his status for Sunday in doubt - not yet ruled out, but not looking good either. And it comes at not only a bad time for the Colts but also for Brazill himself, who had a great game last weekend against the Bengals, playing 42 snaps and catching 3 passes for 53 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chuck Pagano has been talking this week about how Brazill, along with Da'Rick Rogers, have definitely earned more playing time.
Now, however, Brazill's status is in doubt after he was seen Thursday in a walking boot. We don't want to rule him out prematurely, but it's not a good sign. If he can't go this Sunday against the Houston Texans, it would leave the Colts with just 3 wide receivers - T.Y. Hilton, Da'Rick Rogers, and Darrius Heyward-Bey. They wouldn't go with just 3 receivers, which makes the fact that the Colts worked out Deion Branch even more interesting. This from Mike Chappell this morning:
Can confirm #colts worked out Deion Branch. Doing due diligence, just in case. Nothing imminent.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) December 12, 2013
Branch is an intriguing name to Colts fans, as he was Tom Brady's longtime receiver and has had a successful career in the NFL. But I don't expect the Colts to really sign Branch. I think, as Chappell suggested, that it was just the Colts doing their due dilegence now that they very well might be left with only 3 healthy receivers on Sunday. The fact that the Colts haven't yet signed Branch after his Tuesday tryout suggests that they probably won't, especially given that Branch would have benefitted from extra time to learn the offense. And even if the Colts did sign Branch now, he likely wouldn't play Sunday because he would still be learning and getting up to speed.
That's why I would expect Griff Whalen to be called up if LaVon Brazill can't play Sunday. Whalen is currently on the Colts practice squad but has spent time on the active roster this year, catching 9 passes for 102 yards and getting 5 first downs in 6 games played. He would be a much better number 4 wide receiver option for this Sunday than Deion Branch would be to the Colts, because Whalen knows the system.
Hopefully, Brazill's boot is just a precaution and that he will play Sunday, but we just don't know and it admittedly doesn't appear good right now. That would mean - yes - more DHB than many would like this weekend. Let's hope Brazill plays. This from Kevin Bowen today:
Both Pep Hamilton and LaVon Brazill sounded confident that Brazill would be ready to go on Sunday despite not practicing the last 2 days.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) December 12, 2013
Brazill said he believes his right foot got stepped on during the game Sunday: "Nothing major. I should be out there Sunday."— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) December 12, 2013
Let's hope that is indeed the case and that Brazill is playing on Sunday. Some other injury news to report today from practice:
The fact that Greg Toler wasn't spotted at practice shouldn't surprise anybody, as he hasn't been spotted at practice much at all since the Broncos game, save a few practice appearances here and there. Actually, he was limited in practice yesterday - but not seen today. That probably isn't a good sign for his chances of playing this Sunday either.
Also not at practice was Samson Satele, who is dealing with an elbow injury and wasn't at practice yesterday either. Since Thursday and Friday practices are usually telling as to who is ready to play, it is also very possible that the Colts will be without Satele on Sunday - yet another offensive line injury the Colts are dealing with. If that is the case and Satele indeed cannot play, it is likely that Mike McGlynn would move to center (where he was better at earlier in the season than Satele and was better at center than at guard) and that Joe Reitz (who started at left guard last week and played well) and Hugh Thornton (who missed last week but was practicing today and did yesterday as well) would be the starting guards. It would make sense to start Reitz at left guard (where he is better at) and move Thornton to right guard, where we can only hope that he is better than he has been than at left guard.
Lastly, fullback Stanley Havili wasn't seen at practice today either, and he did not practice yesterday with a foot injury. Of all the injured guys, Havili might be the biggest loss just because of the role he plays in the Colts offense and the fact that he actually has played well this season. Say what you want about the offensive style and if you don't like the Colts using a fullback, that's one thing - I'd rather they didn't, either, and use a more pass-friendly offensive style. But regardless of your thoughts on the system, you can't ignore that Havili has played well this year and is especially useful as a pass-catching back - something many fullbacks can't really do. [Going further, with all of the criticism of Ryan Grigson's offseason moves - which is 100% accurate and deserving - the trade to get Havili was actually a very good one.]
Also, Ricky Jean Francois (foot) did not practice yesterday after missing this past Sunday's game and will miss the next few weeks. Personally, my target return date for him is the playoffs. Jeff Linkenbach (quad) also did not practice yesterday after missing the Bengals game, and neither did Robert Mathis, although his was just due to rest.