One month and six days after undergoing a procedure to remove a bone fragment from his foot, Carson Wentz was a full participant in the Colts' practice on Wednesday, taking all the team's first-team reps ahead of Sunday's season opener against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I feel very optimistic, very confident in it and so we'll see as long as the doctors give me the final go-ahead, but I'm optimistic," Wentz said.
Last week, Reich said it'd be "safe to say" the Colts' intention would be for Wentz to start Week 1 if he were to be a full participant in Wednesday's practice. The Colts still have practices Thursday and Friday to prep for Seattle at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
But Wentz has put in the work after his foot procedure to help push him to this point. The reward will be getting the all-clear to play on Sunday, and Wednesday's practice was a significant step in that direction.
"I know they had a very wide range of a timetable and I knew that too, I knew that going in, a lot depending on how the surgery went and a lot of factors," Wentz said. "But I'd say at the end of the day, I'd say God is good for getting me to this point. Thankful for it, and I'm excited for it."
Wednesday's Injury Report
The Colts activated Eric Fisher from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday and placed him on the active roster — not injured reserve — in an important, yet procedural, step in the left tackle's recovery process from an Achilles' injury suffered in the 2021 AFC Championship game.
Fisher was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice, which was the first he's participated in since signing with the Colts in May. Prior to Wednesday, Fisher had mostly done some work off to the side during practice, which Reich thought was "phenomenal."
"I just felt like he was way ahead of schedule with the Achilles and that was really encouraging," Reich told Colts Media's Larra Overton. "And then obviously getting COVID and being out 10 days, it didn't hurt things as far as his Achilles because that had already been healed, but really it just I think hurts a little bit conditioning-wise and that stuff. So we just gotta get him out there a few days, test to see where he's at physically, conditioning-wise and then just getting back into the football mode. We'll accelerate it as fast as we can."
Left guard Quenton Nelson did not practice after his back flared up, although Reich said Nelson — who hasn't missed a game in his three-year pro career — could still play Sunday.
"He has something with his back, just an occasional back flareup," Reich said. "And so just has a little back issue, and so we just want to try to get ahead of it and get him back on track."
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes did not practice with a calf issue and is day-to-day, per Reich.
Additionally, wide receiver Parris Campbell (Achilles) and defensive end Kemoko Turay (groin) were listed as limited.
Colts Pushing Fisher
One other note here on Fisher — Reich said the Colts' plan for him this week is to push him and see if he might be able to play on Sunday, with the thought he can always be pulled back if it's too much.
"Let's try to get him ready right now, try to get him ready to play this week," Reich said. "Maybe that's not realistic but let's try and then we can always pull back."
If Fisher is not available against the Seahawks, the Colts will roll with Julién Davenport as their starting left tackle. Davenport came on strong in the preseason and the Colts are confident he can get the job done if needed while Fisher works his way back.
"Julién is a good athlete, he's got length, he's been consistent," Reich said. "I think his pass protection has been been above average, he's done a nice job there. And he's just fit in — fit in in the run game and provided consistency at that position."
Wentz, Buckner Honored To Be Captains
Wentz and defensive tackle DeForest Buckner were among the six Colts players named team captains for the 2021 season on Wednesday. Colts players voted on captains and selected Wentz, Buckner, Nelson, Zaire Franklin, T.Y. Hilton and Darius Leonard.
"When your teammates vote you as a leader on the team, it means a lot," Wentz said. "It's something I don't take lightly and I know every other guy that wears that C doesn't take it lightly either. Not just the guys that are wearing the C's on Sundays but we have a lot of great leaders on this team and it's something that I've noticed from the second that I walked into this locker room, there's a lot of guys that want to head in the right direction that are pulling guys along, holding each other accountable and there's a lot of leaders in there. So it means a lot to me and I take it very seriously."
Buckner was determined to become a leader in Indianapolis after he was traded to the Colts, working to gain the trust and respect of his teammates over the last year and a half.
"It means a lot," Buckner said. "I came in, I had a goal last year to really come in and gain the guys' trust and their respect. Over the past year I felt like I've been able to do that. To be voted captain, it means a lot. Being able to have that C on my chest, I represent the guys, they look to me as one of the selected few to lead the way. It's a big honor because it's all voted by your peers. When coach called me yesterday, it hit different because it's from the guys."
Buckner was a 2020 First-Team All-Pro, notching 9 1/2 sacks, 26 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for a loss and three pass break-ups while being a transformative presence on the interior of the Colts' defensive line.
And he did all that without quite being able to grab or throw anything the entire season.
Buckner dislocated the fourth MCP joint in his hand on the eve of the Colts' first padded training camp practice of 2020 and was not at full strength last season. He underwent a procedure this offseason to correct the issue and feels strong and healthy entering 2021.
"You need your hands. Those are your weapons," Buckner said. "Being able to have some mobility and strength back is big."
Still, Buckner had an All-Pro season without having full use of his hands. And that should be scary thought for opposing offenses as he enters 2021.