During a conference call with local media and team reporters Monday afternoon, Colts’ head coach Frank Reich said Ryan Kelly, a Pro Bowler and No. 69 on the NFL’s 2020 Top 100 list, is expected to return to practice this week.
Kelly isn’t the only player expected to make a return, though. According to Zak Keefer, a writer for The Athletic, “Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly (elbow) could return to the practice field this week. I’d expect DeForest Buckner back, as well.”
A few other notes:— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 16, 2021
— DC Matt Eberflus has a breakthrough Covid case, like Reich at the beginning of camp. Asymptomatic, feeling fine, Reich says.
— Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly (elbow) could return to the practice field this week. I'd expect DeForest Buckner back, as well.
Getting Kelly back will be a major help to the team’s offensive line, especially considering they were down to their third-string center, Joey Hunt, after losing Danny Pinter for an extended period of time during last week’s practice.
Kelly has long established himself as one of the NFL’s best centers, so his presence and importance to the Colts’ offensive line cannot be understated. A 2x Pro Bowler, the 28-year-old’s instincts, ability to get to the second level so quickly and how quick he’s able to read a defense are just part of what makes him such an important piece to the entire offense. He and left guard Quenton Nelson make arguably the best center, guard combination in the league.
Additionally, Kelly’s return is also monumental for starting quarterback Jacob Eason. While the team “feels good” about where quarterback Carson Wentz is at as he continues to work his way back from a foot injury, according to Reich and Keefer, there’s still a chance Eason could be named the Week 1 starter against the Seattle Seahawks. So, it’s imperative that he and Kelly get as many reps as they can together, should that be the case.
Asked about the status of QB Carson Wentz, who begins rehab this week, Frank Reich declines to specify if the team has any update on where he'll fall in the 5-12 week timetable.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 16, 2021
"I can just tell you we feel good about where we're at right now."
Team owner Jim Irsay said earlier this week that he wants Wentz to be 100% healthy before making his return, according to Keefer. Keefer also noted that a trade “seems very unlikely.” This is a smart decision by the Colts after Sunday’s performance from Eason and Sam Ehlinger, both of whom played very well after having some up-and-down practices throughout the course of last week.
In a chat this evening, Jim Irsay makes it clear: Colts don’t know when Carson Wentz will be ready, and he’s told the QB himself they won’t let him play until he’s back to 100%.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 12, 2021
Team is leaning toward rolling with Eason/Ehlinger if Wentz isn’t ready. Trade seems very unlikely.
The Colts are hoping to have several star players return sooner rather than later. That would be the hope of any NFL team who has been hit with a fair amount of injuries in a short period. And while they aren’t quite sure on Wentz and Nelson, both of whom have a 5-12 week recovery window, getting Kelly back is a nice start.