According to head coach Frank Reich, the Indianapolis Colts are looking at ways to enhance the team’s current COVID-19 protocol—amidst a flurry of recent placements on the team’s Reserve/COVID-19 list (which right now, includes 12 players, with at least 7 starters among them):
The Colts will employ enhanced protocols to guard against further COVID positives, beginning this week. Team has a plan for vaccinated players and unvaccinated players. They know they can't afford to lose several players, specifically Wentz.— Bob Kravitz (@bkravitz) December 27, 2021
That could mean likely holding all team meetings with players virtually this week, although as of now, the Colts still plan on holding live practices with its players as normal.
Of course, Colts fans will be holding their collective breath on starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who presumably remains unvaccinated, and is at risk of missing two games at any point under the league’s current COVID-19 protocol—should he eventually test positive:
Coach Frank Reich says the Colts are considering all options regarding protecting certain players, particularly Carson Wentz. Unclear whether that means isolating him specifically, but he didn't rule it out.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) December 27, 2021
Reich says the team may go all virtual this week, but still fluid.
While the Colts coaching staff and backups did a tremendous job together of ‘filling in’ for a number of unavailable key starters last weekend, the team’s replacement options for Wentz are rookie 6th round pick Sam Ehlinger and veteran backup Brett Hundley—with 9 career starts between them (all of them by Hundley back in 2017 with the Green Bay Packers).
Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL and replacing Wentz will be a much taller task by any conceivable stretch of the imagination than any other player—as 2017 Nick Foles isn’t exactly walking through that door for the Colts.
The Colts simply cannot afford to lose him for any playoff game.
That being said, the situation remains entirely fluid—even league-wide, where the COVID positive numbers are growing at an alarming rate.
The CDC just updated its isolation guidelines, which could potentially mean earlier availability for league players who have previously tested positive for COVID-19—should the league update its current protocol in response as anticipated:
It definitely impacts the currently COVID-depleted Colts, who are certainly feeling the impact and are firmly stuck in the crosshairs ahead of a weekend matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders—seeking to clinch an AFC playoff berth with a victory.