INDIANAPOLIS —Facing a deadline to either move Mo Alie-Cox to the active roster or revert him to Injured Reserve for the rest of the year, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on Wednesday said the team will have to be without its No. 2 tight end for the remainder of the season.
Swoope, who underwent a knee scope during training camp, was placed on IR at the beginning of the regular season, but returned to the practice field about four weeks ago as a candidate to be one of two players the team can return from IR during the season.
Once a return-from-IR candidate returns to the practice field, the team has 21 days to decide whether the player is healthy enough to move to the active roster, or whether they will need to stay on IR for the rest of the season. In Swoope's case, Pagano said "he just didn't make the progress that we thought he was going to make."
"It's close, but we would never put him out there unless he could go out there and be 100 percent," Pagano said. "I know nobody's 100 percent right now, but (we don't want to) risk further injury and things like that."
Swoope was signed by the Colts in the 2014 offseason after having never played organized football. A basketball player at the University of Miami, many believed his athleticism could translate well to being an NFL tight end, as had previously been the case with guys like Antonio Gates and former Colt Marcus Pollard.
Swoope spent his first two years with the Colts on the practice squad, and made his NFL debut for Indy in its 2015 regular season finale. By the next year, he had moved up to the No. 3 tight end, and in 16 games, with four starts, he logged 15 receptions for 297 yards and one touchdown.
But after the team traded its top tight end, Dwayne Allen, to the New England Patriots and then signed its previous backup, Jack Doyle, to take over starting spot shortly thereafter, the No. 2 job was all Swoope's. After a productive offseason training program and start of training camp, however, it was determined Swoope needed to undergo a procedure to clean up his knee.
Swoope, who was eager to get back to the field for the final weeks of this season, said last week he believed he was "ready to go," but Pagano said Wednesday the "best thing for Swopey right now is to go down and continue to rehab, strengthen that thing and get back for next year."
"He's not going to make it, unfortunately for Erik," Pagano said. "We had a deadline there and decided that, again, all these decisions are what's best for the player and best for the team, but more importantly for Erik and his recovery and his health and all that stuff."
With guard/tackle Denzelle Good, who injured his wrist Week 1 and was placed on IR, now back on the active roster, and with Swoope reverted to IR, the team still has one remaining return-from-IR spot it can utilize. Asked Wednesday if the team had anybody else in mind for that designation, Pagano said, "We'll discuss it and see where everybody else is."