INDIANAPOLIS – Carson Wentz took the next step on his path to being the Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback for the Sept. 12 opener against the Seattle Seahawks but did little to alleviate concerns regarding his season-long availability.
He took part in Thursday’s team drills at practice on a limited basis, the first time that was the case since he underwent Aug. 2 surgery on his left foot.
“It felt great to finally get out there in pads,’’ Wentz said.
“He looked amazing, man,’’ linebacker Darius Leonard said. “He looked like a starting quarterback.
“For a guy to have all the adversity that he’s been going through this whole offseason, he’s stepping up when we need him.’’
But the fact remains Wentz, along with Leonard, is one of the Colts’ unvaccinated players.
Along with center Ryan Kelly and wideout Zach Pascal, he missed earlier practices this week after being placed on the COVID-19 list as a close-contact case.
The main detriment to this happening this week was an interruption to Wentz’s rehab from foot surgery.
If a similar situation occurs during the season and in the days leading up to a game, that player – the franchise quarterback, the Pro Bowl center, the versatile wideout, whomever – would have missed a game.
“Trust me, it would be unfortunate,’’ Wentz said. “It’s unfortunate that that’s kind of where we’re at.
“Let’s hope that never happens. Let’s use this hopefully as a lesson learned to do everything we can and try to be out there and be available.’’
Wentz repeatedly has declined to elaborate on his reason to remain unvaccinated. When he first met the media at training camp in late July, he insisted it was “a personal decision.’’
He didn’t go much further Thursday.
“Trust me, it is a personal decision. I’m not going to go into depth on why,’’ he said. “But I will say it’s a personal decision for me and my family. I respect everybody’s decision. I just ask that everybody does the same for me.
“I know that’s not the world we live in. No one really knows what’s going on in someone else’s household and how things are being handled. It’s a personal decision. That’s just where I’m at with it.’’
Wentz realizes his position as the franchise quarterback carries heavier responsibilities.
“Trust me, I’ve weighed a lot of things,’’ he said. “I’ve factored in everything and I know what’s at stake. It’s just where I’m at with my family.’’
However, it seemed as if Wentz is keeping his options open.
“It’s been a fluid process for me the whole time,’’ he said. “As a family we’ve just been monitoring everything we can, letting it play out as long as we can.
“This is where we’re at today. Things could change in the next coming weeks. Who knows? Who knows where this world is going? I’m not going to act like I’m an expert on the vaccine or a virus or anything.’’
The COVID-19 issue aside, Wentz appears on track to start the opener against Seattle.
“I’m optimistic about where I’m at with the foot and mentally with the offense,’’ he said, quickly adding the expected soreness with the foot is “in a pretty good place.’’
After Thursday’s practice, players have a three-day weekend. Wentz will enjoy some quality family time – “which is always fun’’ – and continue his rehab at the team complex.
Monday, there’s a light workout.
“Got to check that box,’’ Reich said. “Then if we’re feeling good at that point it’ll be full-go on Wednesday and all the strings will be off and we’ll see how he responds to that.
“I think it’s generally safe to say that if we come in here and Carson’s taking most of the reps on Wednesday, the intention is he’s going to play. The only thing that would inhibit that is if all a sudden Thursday there was some kind of setback.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.