INDIANAPOLIS — Carson Wentz officially is listed as questionable for Sunday’s crucial AFC South showdown at the Tennessee Titans.
Considering where the quarterback began the week in his recovery from two sprained ankles, that feels like a victory for the Indianapolis Colts.
“I’m very surprised we’re even at this point, to be honest with you, because Monday and Tuesday were pretty bad,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said Friday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “Monday, I thought (there was) zero chance. Tuesday, I thought there was a glimmer of hope. We just handled it day-by-day like we’ve said.
“We’ve been pretty straight forward with how it’s all come down and pretty transparent. It’s been trying to figure it out. Today was the next step in trying to figure that out.”
That “next step” included Wentz returning to the practice field for the first time since suffering the injuries in last week’s loss against the Los Angeles Rams. The 28-year-old appeared to be throwing normally and moving well considering the circumstances during the 20 minutes open to media at the start of practice.
He did spend several minutes prior to the start of individual drills being heavily taped on the sideline.
Reich said the tide began to turn in his mind Wednesday, but there are still hurdles to clear before Wentz suits up.
“The conversation we had was when it got to be about Wednesday,” Reich said. “I just know in my mind, OK, if we’re going to leave this open then we have to think positively. We can always go the other way, but you don’t want to be pessimistic about it and say, oh, all of a sudden, you’re feeling better at the end of the week, maybe you can go. What Carson and I and everybody have talked about is let’s just think as optimistically as we can, and we can always back down and back away.
“We’ve been very conservative with Carson, and his health is first and foremost. We always take a long-term approach. We don’t want to do anything that will harm the player, and so he’s done a very good job. Our training staff has been unbelievable during the week to make whatever progress we have made. So now we’ll just have to see these last 48 hours how it plays out.”
Speaking to the media Wednesday, Wentz sounded like a man willing to push the limits.
He noted he’s played with limited practice on several prior occasions throughout his career, and he believes he can still perform effectively if his mobility suffers as a result of the injuries.
“Every guy has to make adjustments to their style given what they’re dealing with,” Wentz said. “As long as they’re not at risk for themselves to further anything, and you can still help and contribute to the team – I’ve been there countless times.”
Reich said Indianapolis has a backup plan in mind if Wentz can’t play Sunday, but he again declined to go into detail. A report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero earlier this week suggested both Jacob Eason and Brett Hundley could play in place of Wentz. Hundley would have to be elevated from the practice squad by Saturday afternoon, a move that appears likely given the uncertainty surrounding Wentz’s availability.
The starting quarterback has made progress all week, but many factors will play into what’s likely to a game-time decision Sunday. Chief among are Wentz’s ability to protect himself and contribute to the team.
Reich was asked if he believes he can call a normal game for Wentz against Tennessee, and his answer was revealing.
“I’m thinking through that right now,” he said. “I mean, I don’t know. Based on what I saw today, probably not, but we still have 48 hours. Like I said, we have to see how today is, and we have to decide should we do that? Is that right for the team?
“If he can’t function and play his game, what’s best for him and what’s best for the team? That’s ultimately what will guide the decision.”
THEY SAID IT
“Yeah, I do. I do feel like it. The last few days were pretty good. We’re going to look forward and see how it goes when it comes Sunday.” – cornerback Xavier Rhodes on if he’s ready to return from a calf injury after a two-week absence.
Linebacker Jordan Glasgow (concussion) and right tackle Braden Smith (thumb/foot) were ruled out for Sunday’s game. Cornerback T.J. Carrie (knee) and left guard Quenton Nelson (back) also did not participate in Friday’s practice, but both are expected to play.
Glasgow was subsequently placed on injured reserve, and defensive tackle Antwaun Woods was elevated from the practice squad.
Cornerback Caleb Farley (shoulder), tight end Anthony Firkser (knee) and outside linebacker Derick Roberson (knee) were ruled out for the Titans. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree (knee) didn’t practice Friday and is questionable.