INDIANAPOLIS — Sunday's Week 16 home finale against the Carolina Panthers featured an unfortunate first in the career of Quenton Nelson.
After playing all 1,136 of the Colts' offensive snaps last year as a rookie, and then participating in all but one offensive snap through 14 games this season — forced to sit out a single snap Week 11 after reporting as an eligible receiver on the previous play — Nelson missed his first-ever snaps due to injury Sunday after suffering a first-half concussion.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said Monday that Nelson is trying to work his way through the league's concussion protocol, and that the team is "hopeful and optimistic that he'll recover quickly," Reich told Colts.com's Matt Taylor in his weekly appearance on 1075 The Fan's "Colts Roundtable Live."
Nelson, who last week became the fifth player in Colts franchise history to be named a Pro Bowler in his first two NFL seasons, played 33 of a possible 64 offensive snaps on Sunday against the Panthers; he was replaced by Joe Haeg, who would log 35 offensive snaps.
It was Haeg that sprung Marlon Mack on his 30-yard carry in the fourth quarter that officially put the third-year running back over the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season for the first time in his career.
"Joe did a really good job coming in and he played well," Reich told reporters Monday in his weekly conference call. "He did have a great block on that play. It was good for him – a couple good blocks on that play, but Joe certainly had the one that sprung it."
The Colts (7-8) will continue to closely monitor Nelson's status this week, as the team prepares for this Sunday's 2019 finale on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10). That will also be the case for starting rookie safety Khari Willis, who exited Panthers game with a burner in the third quarter and did not return.
"These young guys, they heal fast," Reich told Taylor with a smile. "So that's what we'll count on."