INDIANAPOLIS – Trey Burton’s status remains murky, and that undoubtedly will have a ripple effect with the Indianapolis Colts’ offense.
The veteran tight end suffered a strained left calf in Saturday’s final training camp practice at Lucas Oil Stadium, and the team still isn’t certain how long it will keep him off the field.
“Those things can range in a number of weeks,’’ Frank Reich said Monday on a Zoom conference call. “Still waiting for it to settle down for a day or two to really get a better gauge to how long it may be.
“I can tell you those type of things are generally more than two weeks if you get it good.’’
That would jeopardize Burton’s availability for the Sept. 13 opener at Jacksonville, perhaps longer.
And that would force Reich and coordinator Nick Sirianni to adjust their approach. They like to feature tight ends and exploit the possible mismatches, and that’s been especially true with Burton during camp. He’s been a frequent mid-range target for quarterback Philip Rivers.
“Trey’s a playmaker. That’s why we brought him here,’’ Reich said. “We’ve seen that in the couple of weeks of practice that we’ve had.
“He has unique pass-receiving ability and route-running ability, so we’re going to miss Trey. But the good news is he’ll heal quickly and we’ll get him back soon.’
In Burton’s absence, the proven tight ends are Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox. Doyle is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who’s a solid blocker but more effective in the shorter passing game. He generated 80 catches in 2017, the second-most by a tight end in team history.
Alie-Cox remains a work in progress. He was a standout basketball player at Virginia Commonwealth who earned a roster spot as an undrafted rookie in 2018. At 6-5 and 267 pounds he’s the most physical blocker of the bunch, but has just 15 catches, 226 yards and two TDs in 25 games.
“I think the next step for me is being another weapon in the passing game,’’ Alie-Cox said. “Last year I only had eight catches and then I broke my thumb, so I couldn’t really be utilized within the passing scheme.
“I think I could be very helpful in that area. I think I could go in there and step in and do it.’’
The rest of the room: Xavier Grimble, Andrew Vollert, Dominique Dafney and Farrod Green. Grimble is the only one with NFL production – 23 catches, 239 yards, three TDs with Pittsburgh – but has missed camp time with an injury. Dafney and Green are rookies.
“We like to use a lot of different personnel groups,’’ Reich said. “It’ll just put a little bit of emphasis on other personnel groups.’’
Sheldon Day update
As it turns out, defensive tackle and Warren Central H.S. product Sheldon Day is on the mend after undergoing a minor procedure to address a knee injury. One of Chris Ballard’s offseason free-agent acquisitions sustained the injury during a freak accident during an early camp practice.
“I can still see it in my mind,’’ Reich said. “Just kind of a freak thing. Didn’t look like it was much, but you could tell he got hit the wrong way.
“The update is he is making progress, getting closer.’’
Julian Blackmon elevated
Julian Blackmon’s accelerated comeback from a serious knee injury resulted in him being added to the active roster from the non-football injury list. The third-round draft pick suffered a torn ACL in his final collegiate game at Utah in December.
“Very impressed. Nine months, a little bit under that,’’ Reich said. “It just goes to speak to his mindset and the kind of person that he is and how he attacked this rehab even during the difficult time, right, through the pandemic.
“In difficult circumstances, he’s handled himself like a pro. You can feel the maturity in him. You can feel the competitive fire, how badly he wants to be out there.’’
The 6-0, 187-pound Blackmon was expected to be on the practice field Monday afternoon and will be eased back into things.
“We’ll be smart with him,’’ Reich said.
More medical matters
Reich anticipated cornerback Kenny Moore II (groin), wideout Zach Pascal (hamstring) and wideout Marcus Johnson (unknown injury) returning to practice Monday on a limited basis.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.