INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said today that quarterback Jacoby Brissett's playing status in Sunday's Week 10 matchup against the Miami Dolphins will come down to a gametime decision.
Brissett suffered a sprained MCL last Sunday in the Colts' Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but an MRI on Monday indicated he had sustained no serious damage. He was able to practice in a limited role all three days of practice this week, but the team also gave backup Brian Hoyer added reps just in case he would be needed as a spot starter.
Reich told reporters Friday he's been "encouraged" by Brissett's progress this week, but that the team will take all the time it can to determine his playing status for Sunday; Brissett on Friday was officially labeled as questionable for the game.
"I think he's looked OK during the week of practice and feel confidence in things that he's done, but we need to take every day and every minute for him to get back and see if we can get comfortable in it," Reich said. "And at the end of the day we gotta make the right decision for him and for the team. But I'm encouraged at some of the progress he's made."
Brissett suffered the injury to his left knee early in the second quarter of last week's Week 9 loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field; he was rolled up on by left guard Quenton Nelson, who was knocked back into the quarterback's leg by a Steelers defender.
Brissett worked with team medical personnel on the sideline in an effort to return to the game, but Reich ultimately decided to stick with Hoyer for the remainder of the afternoon. Signed just before the start of the regular season, Hoyer had a solid performance in his first Colts appearance last week, completing 17-of-26 passes (65.4 percent) for 168 yards with three touchdowns to one interception in Indy's 26-24 loss.
One of the primary factors included in the decision of whether or not to play Brissett Sunday is the risk of re-aggravating the injury. In the short term, Reich said, this a "critically important" midseason game for the Colts (5-3), who can move back into a tie for first place in the AFC South Division standings with a win. But Reich also has to keep in mind the long-term health of his starting quarterback.
"My understanding of an (MCL) sprain is this is not an uncommon injury to play with — players have played with this injury before with varying levels at varying positions," Reich said. "So, yeah, I mean, it's football, so you're always at risk, but how much risk does (this injury) put you? I'm not a doctor, so I probably can't answer it directly, but it probably puts you at a little bit more risk of re-aggravating it.
"But that's part of the decision — do you cross that threshold where there's not too much risk?" Reich continued. "There's always going to be some risk; we just wanna get it to a minimum risk."
If Hoyer does end up starting this game for the Colts, then there's a chance the team will elevate practice squad quarterback Chad Kelly to the active roster to back him up.
"He's had some plays this week," Reich said of Hoyer. "I don't know an exact percentage or number, but he's had his share of plays, and then we've gotten him some extra work after practice. And certainly he's a pro — he's getting ready in case he's the starter."