INDIANAPOLIS — The Colts were able to overcome the toll COVID-19 took on their roster on Christmas night in Arizona.
A change to NFL rules might help Indianapolis avoid another game like that on Sunday against the Raiders, a game that can clinch a playoff spot for the Colts with a win.
Wentz on COVID list:4 ways for the Colts to manage Carson Wentz’s absence
1:30 p.m.: Colts place Carson Wentz on reserve/COVID-19 list
The Colts placed starting quarterback Carson Wentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, making him questionable for Sunday’s game, although a change in the NFL’s protocols to reflect CDC guidelines make it possible for Wentz to play against the Raiders.
Wentz tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the 15th Colt to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list in the past week. All 15 appear to have a chance to play on Sunday against the Raiders, provided they meet the NFL’s new criteria.
5:30 p.m.: NFLPA, NFL reduce quarantine 5 days due to CDC guidance
Under the NFL’s new criteria, any player, coach or staffer, vaccinated or unvaccinated, can return to the team after a five-day period of isolation beginning when the test was performed, provided the player has not had a fever in the past 24 hours and other symptoms are resolving.
The policy change deeply altered the situation the Colts are facing. Wentz has not been vaccinated, and under the old rules he’d have been forced to sit out at least 10 days, missing the game against the Raiders.
Wentz has been resolute in his decision to remain unvaccinated, even though vaccinated players faced less frequent testing — unvaccinated players must be tested every day — and were able to return earlier than 10 days if they produced two negative tests 24 hours apart or test at a viral load below a certain threshold.
“I’m not going to go in depth on why, but it’s a personal decision for me and my family,” Wentz said in August. “I respect everybody else’s decision, and I just ask that everybody does the same for me.”
Wentz almost certainly will not be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list again this season. Under NFL rules that date back to the 2020 season, any player who tests positive for COVID-19 does not have to test again for the next 90 days, a period of time that covers the entire playoff schedule through the Super Bowl.
Wentz has played good football for the Colts, limiting mistakes and providing a big-play arm to an offense that has been carried by MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor at running back, all while playing 97.8% of the snaps to this point.
The Colts starter has thrown for 3,230 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions. Twenty-seven quarterbacks have thrown more interceptions this season, and Indianapolis is tied for second in the NFL in sacks allowed, having given up just 25.