Colts QB Wentz on COVID-19 list, could return Sunday

Field Level Media

December 28, 2021 at 11:29 pm.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, but adjusted protocol from the NFL could allow him to return for Sunday’s game with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Wentz, who said he is unvaccinated, would have been forced to sit out for the Colts (9-6) on Sunday against the visiting Raiders (8-7) if not for the NFL adopting the health and safety protocol to match the latest CDC recommendations for a five-day isolation period.

Under guidelines that existed in the NFL as of Tuesday morning, Wentz would have been mandated to sit the next 10 days if he tested positive for the virus, or a minimum of five if he’s deemed only a close contact.

“We have placed QB Carson Wentz on the Reserve/COVID-19 list,” the Colts confirmed in a noontime statement, without offering further details of the move.

In order to return, Wentz will only need to self-report whether he is experiencing symptoms. No additional testing is required.

Sam Ehlinger will run the first-team offense this week. If Wentz hits any hurdles, Ehlinger is in line for the starting nod on Sunday.

Ehlinger, 23, has yet to throw a pass in three games this season since being selected by Indianapolis in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Texas.

“You’ve always got a plan, just like any other position,” Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said Tuesday. “We have that separate call sheet ready to go. … (Sam is) ready to go.”

Brady said Ehlinger doesn’t have Wentz’s arm strength and might “run around a little bit more” because of his scrambling ability.

The Athletic reported the Colts are discussing reaching out to former quarterback Philip Rivers, but that would likely not be a necessary step under amended return-to-play rules. The 40-year-old spent last season with Indianapolis, guiding the club to an 11-5 record and a berth in the playoffs before retiring in January.

Rivers told the Los Angeles Times in August that he would listen if an NFL team came calling, although he admitted in November that he had not heard from the New Orleans Saints after Jameis Winston sustained a season-ending knee injury.

Rivers has spent his down time serving as the high school football coach at St. Michael Catholic in Fairhope, Ala.

Rivers ranks sixth in NFL history in passing yards (63,440) and sixth in touchdown passes (421). The eight-time Pro Bowl selection compiled a 134-106 record in 17 seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers (2004-19) and Colts (2020).

The Colts, who have won three in a row, reside one game behind the Tennessee Titans (10-5) for first place in the AFC South. The Titans, however, have swept the season series.

Indianapolis sits in fifth place in the AFC, albeit tied with three other teams at 9-6.

Wentz, 28, has thrown for 3,230 yards with 25 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games this season. By comparison, he was tied for the NFL league lead with 15 picks in 2020.

Wentz has thrown for 20,041 yards with 138 touchdowns and 56 picks in 83 career games with the Philadelphia Eagles and Colts. He was selected by the Eagles with the second overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft.