As we get closer to the Colts' season-opener against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday, there are a couple of injuries that we are keeping our eye on. Of course the potential return of Robert Mathis is worth noting, as are the injuries to running back Vick Ballard and cornerback Greg Toler, who both missed practice on Wednesday.
Especially regarding Toler, it sounds likely that the starting cornerback won't be ready to go in week one. He suffered a neck injury in the second preseason game and hasn't practiced since, being described as "week to week." With the Colts, that doesn't mean a ton other than that the player will miss some time. As recently as Wednesday, head coach Chuck Pagano reiterated that Toler's status is still "week to week" - something that would seem to strongly indicate he won't be playing on Sunday.
Without Toler, the Colts' cornerback group isn't looking particularly strong. Vontae Davis and Darius Butler will be the two starters if Toler can't go, though the slot cornerback position is up for discussion. "We've got a bunch of guys," Pagano noted. "20 (Butler) can go in there. 25 (Jalil Brown) can play in there, play outside. We've got a couple safeties that know what to do."
My guess would be that the Colts would start Davis and Butler on the outside, but when they need to bring a cornerback in to play in the slot, they would move Butler there and bring someone else in to play on the outside. That way, you are utilizing Butler to his strengths when given the opportunity, since he is much better as a slot cornerback than on the outside.
Furthermore, there are other injuries at cornerback that the Colts need to account for. Sheldon Price (concussion) and D'Joun Smith (knee), so those are at least two situations to note as we get closer to the game. With everybody healthy, it'll likely be either Smith or Jalil Brown who sees the most time while helping to fill in for Toler.
The loss of Toler is a significant one, to be sure. Even those who argue that Toler stinks (I don't think that's necessarily true) can likely see that he's the best option the team has at the outside cornerback spot right now alongside Davis, since Butler is a slot corner. With that said, however, the Colts are facing a quarterback making his first career start in Tyrod Taylor, and while the Bills have a solid group of wideouts (Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Percy Harvin), we don't know what to expect out of Taylor. Put simply, this is a good time of the season for Toler to miss if he's going to miss any games with the injury, since the Colts' next five opponents are projected to be quarterbacked by Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, and Brian Hoyer. We're still not sure how much longer Toler will be out, but it is sounding likely that he won't be out there this Sunday in the season-opener against the Bills.