The NFL adopted new COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, which now gives players the opportunity to return to in-game action much sooner since the quarantine period has been changed to five days.
With the updated protocols, quarterback Carson Wentz, who was added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, will be eligible to play Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders if clears COVID protocols.
Via Frank Reich: *IF* Carson Wentz clears the protocol, he is eligible to return in time for Sunday's game vs. the Raiders. So the change in protocols would allow Wentz to return, provided he has no symptoms and tests out.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 29, 2021
Sam Ehlinger will start otherwise.
It should be noted, though, that Wentz must be activated from the COVID list by Saturday at 4 pm EST and ‘gain medical clearance’ on Sunday as well, according to Stephen Holder, a writer for The Athletic.
This should help clarify some of the confusion on Carson Wentz: According to league policy, he would need to be activated from the COVID list on *Saturday* by 4 pm EST.— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) December 29, 2021
THEN.... he must also gain medical clearance on Sunday morning. So, it's a two-step process. https://t.co/asX3raXqcr
The Colts have also reached out to former quarterback Philip Rivers regarding a potential reunion, but ‘nothing’s happened on that front,’ according to Zak Keefer, a writer for The Athletic.
Frank Reich has had some conversations with Philip Rivers of late, he says, but at this point, nothing happening on that front. Colts will move forward with Sam Ehlinger at QB if needed, but my gut tells me Wentz will be back and start. Wild week.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 29, 2021
Should Wentz be unable to clear protocols in time for Sunday’s game, rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger would get the start, according to Keefer.
As the team hopes to have its starting quarterback for such a crucial game, they’ve already activated multiple starters, including guards Quenton Nelson and Mark Glowinski, and two key defensive starters in defensive end Kemoko Turay and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.
In addition to each returning starter listed above, the Colts also got back Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly, who’s been a staple for the team’s second-ranked rushing attack this season.
Keep in mind that once players are removed from the COVID list, they’re exempt from being tested for 90 days, which would run through the upcoming postseason, as Keefer mentions below.
To my knowledge, all (or very close to all) of the Colts' unvaccinated players have now been on the Covid list. Why does this matter? Because once they're off the list, they're exempt from testing for 90 days, meaning they're clear for the entirety of a potential playoff run.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 29, 2021
Sitting at 9-6 on the season, a win would officially clinch a playoff birth for the Colts for a second straight season, and having Wentz at the helm would significantly improve their chances of such an outcome.