INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke to reporters on Monday, the day after the team's Week 12 loss to the Tennessee Titans. What injury and COVID-19-related updates did he have on tackle Anthony Castonzo, center Ryan Kelly, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and more?
You catch catch that entire session — which also included Reich’s thoughts on punter Rigoberto Sanchez’s cancer diagnosis — above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Left tackle Anthony Castonzo: Reich confirmed that Castonzo suffered a sprained MCL early in Sunday's loss to the Titans. While the natural follow-up question is "how long is he going to be out?" especially for a player as critically important as Castonzo, Reich said the team is still trying to figure that out.
"You know how those things go — how many weeks or an exact timetable on it, we have to wait and see how this week falls out," Reich said. "It's really too early to tell so we will just leave it at that."
Asked if Castonzo was already being ruled out of this Sunday's Week 13 road matchup against the Houston Texans, Reich said, "there is no way to really evaluate where he is at right now until he can test it."
"It's an MCL sprain, so the examination today is not at that level where we're not even talking about that decision about what week is possible (for a return)," Reich said of Castonzo. "It's OK, it's not worst-case scenario. (It's) some degree of an MCL sprain; let's take a few days to figure out what degree and how many weeks that may be."
The Colts utilized fifth-year veteran Le'Raven Clark in Castonzo's place against the Titans. Reich today said Clark "settled down and played solid the rest of the game" after some early struggles, but also said the team will keep on considering its options at the left tackle position moving forward as long as No. 74 remains unavailable, including the possibility of right tackle Braden Smith switching sides, or even All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson giving it a shot.
"Yeah, we talk about every scenario," Reich said. "Every option gets discussed. That's just us doing our due diligence. You have 'X' number of guys, so there is 'X' number of combinations and it would just be the responsible and prudent thing to do to look at all those combinations and what are the pros and cons to those conversations. That was a discussion."
» Center Ryan Kelly: Kelly missed his first game of the year on Sunday, as he continues to battle a neck injury.
Reich said Monday the Pro Bowl center is "making good progress," and that the team is "fairly optimistic" that he can potentially make a return this Sunday against the Texans.
"But we'll have to see how this week goes," Reich added. "But we feel good with his progress."
It was rookie Danny Center making his first-career start at center on Sunday against the Titans — in fact, Pinter, who entered the college ranks at Ball State as a tight end and then moved to right tackle his junior year, hadn't ever started a single game at center at any level of football until Sunday.
Reich said he thought Pinter "more than held his own" against the Titans.
"He showed a lot of good things," Reich said. "Chris (Ballard) and I were talking about it this morning, when we watched his tape from college is really projecting him as a guy who could be a really good backup center and more than that one day if he continues to develop. We're very happy with how Danny played and he did a good job."
» Safety Khari Willis and running back Jordan Wilkins: Both Willis and Wilkins were injured during Sunday's game against the Titans. Willis suffered back and quad injuries in the second half and didn't return; Wilkins, meanwhile, was labeled as questionable with a rib injury coming out of halftime, but was quickly able to return to game action.
Reich confirmed today that "both guys are pretty banged up."
"But they're both tough guys," Reich added.
As with most injuries, it's still too early to tell how involved Willis and/or Wilkins will be in practice this week, as well as their availability for Sunday's game in Houston.
"We have to see – you guys know how it is, that the day after the game most times you really don't start feeling better until Thursday or Friday," Reich said. "It's just going to take a little time to see how quickly they heal, as to what their status will be for this weekend."
With Jonathan Taylor not playing Sunday after being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Nyheim Hines was the only active running back available to step up with Wilkins temporarily out against the Titans.
It was veteran Tavon Wilson logging defensive snaps in Willis' place at safety, meanwhile.
The Colts last week placed defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and running back Jonathan Taylor on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, where they joined defensive tackle/end Denico Autry, who was placed on the list on Nov. 20. All three missed Sunday's loss to the Titans; for Autry, it was his second straight missed game.
The Colts cannot confirm whether or not a player placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list has tested positive for the virus, but Reich did confirm that Taylor is currently just considered a high-risk contact, which opens up the possibility of him returning this Sunday against the Texans.
As for Autry and Buckner, Reich did say that they're "making good progress," but as of Monday couldn't say much about their possible playing status for Week 13 or beyond.
"These things change on a daily basis, as you know," Reich said. "But I will tell you that nobody has (had) any setbacks. Everybody is doing well and they are moving along the path the way they should be moving along the path to being active. We'll be optimistic that that path will continue."