WESTFIELD – Frank Reich cut to the quick.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Tossing in an obscenity would have been understandable.
In the span of 24 hours, the Indianapolis Colts saw their starting quarterback (Carson Wentz) and All-Pro guard (Quenton Nelson) sidelined for between 5-and-12 weeks with similar foot injuries.
They’re keeping Dr. David Porter, the team’s orthopedic surgeon, busy with 4 o’clock appointments.
A wrenching recap:
- Monday, Wentz underwent surgery on his left foot to remove a loose particle from an injury that probably dated back to high school but reared its painful, ugly head in practice last Thursday.
- Tuesday, Nelson faced the same date with Dr. Porter – 4 o’clock surgery to address a broken bone in his right foot – and rehab time frame. Nelson’s injury occurred Monday.
Reich announced the second gut-punch in as many days with a touch of semi-disbelief.
“In an odd twist of events he’s got virtually the same injury as Carson,’’ he said. “It’s not exactly the same, but it is essentially the same.’’
Wentz’s injury involved an injury doctors believed first occurred in high school. Whatever movement he made during Thursday’s practice dislodged a piece of his fifth left metatarsal, and that fragment had to be “excised,’’ according to Reich.
Nelson’s situation was somewhat different in that it wasn’t an old injury.
“Q’s was a developmental anomaly, something that he was kind of born with,’’ Reich said. “It’s always there, you never know, then all of a sudden here it is.
“They got there different ways, but essentially the same thing. You can’t make that up, right?’’
Reich reviewed video of Monday’s practice and couldn’t detect a specific play that resulted in the injury.
“Whatever happened, something got loose and is wreaking havoc,’’ he said.
The Colts haven’t ruled Wentz out of the Sept. 12 season opener with Seattle and also are holding out hope for Nelson.
“We’ll be hopeful Q will be back for week 1,’’ Reich said. “We don’t know, but that’s what our hope is.’’
And rightly so. The Colts’ first five games are daunting: consecutive home games with Seattle (12-4 in 2020) and the Los Angeles Rams (10-6) followed by three straight on the road against Tennessee (11-5), Miami (10-6) and Baltimore (11-5). Only the Dolphins failed to reach the playoffs.
From a functional standpoint, Wentz and Nelson could return while still dealing with lingering pain with their foot.
“You get it fixed and maybe you’re not 100% but you’re not really putting yourself in danger very much by coming back and playing with a little bit of pain,’’ Reich said.
Until Wentz returns, 2020 fourth-round draft pick Jacob Eason is the starter.
Along with losing Wentz and Nelson for 5-12 weeks, the Colts saw Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly hyperextend his left elbow last week, an injury that might keep him out another week or so.
As the final team drill unfolded Tuesday, Kelly, Nelson and left tackle Eric Fisher (on PUP while he continues his rehab from a torn Achilles) looked on from the back.
The Colts aren’t in panic mode despite the significant injuries to significant players. They’re relieved these aren’t season-ending injuries.
“This is football. It’s hard. You’ve got to make it work,’’ Reich said. “Yeah, we’ve got Ryan out. We’ve got Eric Fisher out. Now we’ve got Quenton out. We’ve got Carson out.
“That’s the way it is for everybody. You’re always dealing with something and now we’re dealing with a bunch of them, a slew of them at key positions. But I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys to step up and do a good job.’’
With Nelson out, Chris Reed took the reps with the starting offense Tuesday. It might have been Danny Pinter, but he was sidelined with an illness.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys we’ve been repping,’’ Reich said. “We were talking about it as a staff, we were talking about it individually. This is a great opportunity, right, for our guys, for us to build depth on our team.’’
Yet it’s impossible to overstate the loss of Nelson.
Since being selected with the 6th overall pick in 2018, he has established himself as one of the NFL’s premier interior offensive linemen. He’s started all 51 games, including the playoffs, and seldom missed practice.
Nelson is the first Colt to be named first-team All-Pro in each of his first three seasons, and just the fifth player in the NFL since the 1970 merger. The short list: Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Earl Campbell and Keith Jackson.
If Nelson is able to make a quick return and go 4-for-4, he’ll join Taylor as the only players to open a career with four first-team All-Pro selections.
Update on Wentz
Along with passing along the news about Nelson, Reich offered an update on Wentz.
“Very successful surgery,’’ he said. “Talking to the docs it was best-case scenario. That means you go in, you remove the bone that was in there, you look around and there’s nothing else going on. Now it’s all about the rehab process.
“Talked to Carson last night actually and this morning. He’s in great spirits. He’s already working. Already had a 20-minute meeting asking me questions about some of the stuff on offense we’re working through.’’
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You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.
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