INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts have had their share of injuries at wide receiver this season, but reinforcements could be on their way.
Head coach Frank Reich announced today that No. 2 receiver Devin Funchess, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a clavicle injury Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers, will be returning to practice today as the team begins preparations for Sunday's Week 11 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Colts now face a 21-day window to decide whether to move Funchess to the active roster, or revert him to IR for the rest of the season.
"He's going to be out there doing some limited stuff, and then we'll see how the week progresses," Reich told reporters today.
Funchess was one of the Colts' primary free-agent pickups this offseason, as he brought needed size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) and playmaking ability (21 touchdowns over his first four NFL seasons) to the team's wide receiver corps.
Those attributes were on full display in Indy's Week 1 contest on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers, as he hauled in three passes for 32 yards, none of which were bigger than his eight-yard reception on 4th and 3 from the Chargers' 49-yard line during the Colts' final game-tying drive, as he dragged cornerback Brandon Facyson about four extra yards before being brought down on the Indianapolis sideline.
But later in that drive, quarterback Jacoby Brissett, on 1st and 10 from the Chargers' 19-yard line, fired a pass deep down the left sideline for Funchess, who was in one-on-one coverage against Facyson. Funchess was able to haul in the pass in the end zone, but landed out of bounds — and directly on his left shoulder.
Funchess underwent surgery the next day, and was subsequently placed on IR.
Reich said today that taking on contact will be one of the final determining factors when it comes to deciding if and when Funchess will be brought back to game action within the next three weeks.
"That's one of the boxes that he has to check, that he has to get certain things done and scans done to make sure that, 'Hey this is fully cleared, ready to go,'" Reich said. "I mean, I haven't talked to the doctor most recently, but you know, you've got a break; you have to wait until it's completely healed, right? And then once it's completely healed, you're good. Just like new."
The Colts have been battling injuries at the wide receiver position ever since Funchess went down Week 1. No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton missed a game-and-a-half earlier this season with a quad injury, and has missed the last two games with a calf injury suffered during practice on Oct. 30; 2019 second-round pick Parris Campbell, meanwhile, missed two games (Weeks 5 and 7) with an abdominal injury, and suffered a fractured hand Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and did not play last Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Hilton is continuing to be monitored on a "day-by-day" basis, Reich said Monday; Campbell, meanwhile, said Tuesday he hopes to be back in the lineup by December.
The injuries have created opportunities for others to step up at wide receiver. Zach Pascal has led that charge, as he has 21 receptions for 347 yards and four touchdowns heading into Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
Other receivers who have played added snaps include Chester Rogers (14 receptions, 156 yards, two touchdowns), Marcus Johnson (one reception for nine yards last Sunday in his 2019 regular season debut) and undrafted rookie Ashton Dulin. Deon Cain, who has four receptions for 52 yards on the year, was waived last Saturday but signed to the Colts' practice squad earlier this week.
With Funchess returning to practice Wednesday, the team now has one more return-from-IR spot it can utilize the rest of the season, though it can only be used on players who have been placed on IR since Week 1; that leaves defensive end Kemoko Turay as the only other possible candidate currently on the Colts' roster, but Reich has said Turay's ankle injury suffered Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs was season-ending.