The Indianapolis Colts announced on Friday that the team has placed starting left guard Quenton Nelson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Nelson had just returned to team practice on Thursday from a non-COVID 19 related illness, but will now join fellow guard Mark Glowinski on such reserve list, who was just placed on it a day ago.
It means that not only will the Colts be without both starting offensive guards on Saturday evening against the Arizona Cardinals, but also their 1st-team center, Ryan Kelly, who continues to grieve the sudden passing of his infant daughter, along with his wife—and is rightfully taking personal time away from the game of football.
While backup Chris Reed has shown he can be a starting caliber guard, who played well in Nelson’s initial absence and also when platooning with Glowinski earlier in the season, he can only fill one spot. It presumably means swing-tackle Matt Pryor, who’s been largely used as a right tackle so far this year, may fill in at the adjacent starting guard spot.
Meanwhile, 2nd-year pro Danny Pinter, who’s made consecutive starts for the Colts without Kelly available, has played well and should receive his third straight start at center.
The encouraging news is that the Colts have better offensive line depth collectively than in previous seasons where it was few and far between. Backups like Reed, Pinter, and Pryor have played well when called upon in spot-starts or limited duty respectively.
That being said, all three backups will be called upon to fill in simultaneously, which could hurt the Colts’ extremely strong continuity as of late with their starting group (*although to be fair, Pinter has been the starter the past two weeks of action).
It’s also easier said than done replacing a 3x NFL First-Team All-Pro offensive guard like Nelson, who’s immense impact along the starting offensive line has proven to be invaluable. Nelson has made 11 starts for the Colts so far this season and was recently named to his 4th straight career Pro Bowl.
This latest news is definitely not ideal, but it’s not exactly a ‘dooms day’ scenario Christmas night either for the Colts. Just next man up, again.