- Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback Carson Wentz is progressing well after surgery to repair an injured bone in his foot.
- Head coach Frank Reich was vague about his return timeline but otherwise sounded very positive and upbeat.
- It’s still unclear if Wentz will be able to start in Week 1 of the regular season.
Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback Carson Wentz might not be ready to start when his team begins the 2021 NFL regular season at home against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, September 12. Based on the assessment of head coach Frank Reich, however, he shouldn’t miss more than a couple of games at the most. This revelation makes the Wentz injury scenario far from the potential disaster that it appeared to be in late July and early August.
Wentz had surgery to remove a lose bone in his foot–an old injury that had become re-aggravated during training camp–on August 2. The plan was to give it a couple of weeks to heal and then assess the situation before planning out the rest of his rehabilitation and recovery. Although Reich was maddeningly vague on specifics like most NFL head coaches it was evident that he was very happy about where Wentz is at. In fact, Reich sounds downright positive and upbeat which strongly suggests that Wentz’s recovery time line might be ‘best case scenario’:
“We’re at the two-week window,” Reich said to reporters during Colts training camp Monday. “We feel good about where we’re at, at the two-week window. You know what I like to say about these kinds of things is, I don’t see the advantage of me trying to project that out. I can just tell you we feel good about where we’re at right now. I think that’s the main thing.”
“I think Carson and Q (offensive guard Quenton Nelson) have done a good job in the rehab process with the right mentality getting the work done that they need to get done and I think it’s all been good.”
The absolute best case scenario for Wentz’s return is likely three weeks from Monday which would be September 6–one week out from the start of the regular season. That would give him a full week of practice before Sunday’s opening game against Seattle. This does assume he’s reached the point that he can be a full participant in practice. Reich said that Wentz will start the next phase of his rehab soon:
“He’ll start doing some walk-throughs here pretty soon. Part of the rehab process will just be doing walk-throughs, and you guys know how we feel about that. That’s real. When he gets out there and is doing a walk-through with us, that’s a good thing. He’ll start throwing some. He’ll start throwing some and then we will advance that as we can. When you say start throwing, that could mean a lot of different things.
“He’s been sticking to a plan. That plan has been going well. We’re happy where he’s at right now. We’ll just look forward to updating you guys as we go along and we get further along in the process. Now two weeks into it, we feel good where we’re at, but just feel like these next two weeks will be really critical for him to say on course – he and Quenton – and continue to get better.”
Wentz has been at practice without a boot which is obviously an encouraging sign given the initial recovery timeline from his surgery. Reich isn’t going to rush his quarterback back, however, even if he is showing a faster than expected improvement. Nor is he going to give a specific timeline for when he’ll return to action:
“I think it’s very positive. Like I said, I continue to be optimistic about his return, but it still just doesn’t make any sense for me to try to predict when that will be because as the rehab continues and he starts pushing it. You don’t know – is there a setback along the way when you really start going harder and you really start testing it out?”
“Right now everything feels like it’s great, but how far have we really tested it? We’re only two weeks out. I think that’s why it makes sense to me and our team here, hey, let’s let him get further into this process and the rehab and the actual getting on the field and taking next steps there to determine the pace that we go.”
The secondary concern at the time of Wentz’s surgery was the Colts’ backup quarterback situation. They went out and picked up Brett Hundley immediately after it happened but that left them without any quarterbacks with significant game experience. They’ve since waived ‘project’ Jalen Morton leaving them with Hundley, Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger on the depth chart. Reich is now confident in his quarterback situation to the point that they’re no longer entertaining the idea of bringing in a veteran quarterback.
Eason and Ehlinger are the likely starters if Wentz can’t go for the first few games of the regular season. Both played capably in the Colts’ first preseason game– Eason was 15-for-21 for 183 yards and Ehlinger went 10-for-15 for 155 yards. Colts coach Frank Reich thought they both did a decent job:
“I thought he went out there and showed himself well. There are times where [his timing] needs to be better, I think you’re seeing that right at times, but I think he’s making good progress. He’s very coachable, and I think he’s getting better each day and each week. Shoot, I’d [say the] same thing about our other quarterback. He had times where he was a little slow on the trigger, so he needs to speed that up, but there were also a lot of good flashes as well. Real good decision making, real good timing and then made good throws.”
Indy’s opener against Seattle is off the board at some sportsbooks due to the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback situation. Sportsbooks that are booking the game have the Seahawks installed as a -2.5 road favorite with the total set at 48.5 or 49.