INDIANAPOLIS – The Carson Wentz era begins.
After weeks of speculation and anticipation, Frank Reich confirmed Friday Wentz, the Indianapolis Colts’ latest franchise quarterback, will make his debut with the team in Sunday’s opener against the Seattle Seahawks in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Wentz went through his first full week of practice this week after a preseason interrupted by Aug. 2 surgery on his left foot and a stint on the COVID-19 list as a close-contact case.
“He’s been full all week,’’ Reich said. “I think he’s looked good and he’s ready to go.’’
The last step on Wentz’s rehab from surgery was how the foot would react to one practice after another. There were no hiccups.
“Yeah, that was it,’’ Reich said. “It was stack three practices in a row, try to be full at every practice and then respond well the next day. We were able to do that.’’
Wentz admitted on Wednesday he’s still dealing with some level of pain with the foot, but otherwise was upbeat.
The foot, he said, is “definitely in a really good place. I feel very optimistic, very confident in it an so we’ll see (about starting) as long as the doctors give me the final go ahead. But I’m optimistic.’’
While Wentz being under center is the best-case scenario for the Colts, it won’t occur under ideal circumstances. Because of the surgery and COVID-19 issue, he will have had roughly five full practices since the start of training camp in late July.
“It’s not how you would write the story,” Reich said, “but it can be a great story nonetheless. Carson’s an extremely bright guy. He’s done a lot of work mentally even when he hasn’t been able to work physically.
“When you factor in his mental capacity and his ability to focus and to lock in and to be dialed in . . . since this offseason, that’s what gives us confidence.’’
Reich’s message to Wentz?
“Just play the position and be yourself,’’ he said. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Just go out there and play a good football game.’’
Sunday will be Wentz’s first start since week 13 of last season. He was benched in the Philadelphia Eagles’ 30-16 loss at Green Bay and replaced over the final four games by rookie Jalen Hurts.
In his 12 starts, Wentz endured the least efficient season of his five-year career, which resulted in the Eagles deciding to trade him to the Colts in February. He passed for 2,492 yards and 16 touchdowns, but was sacked 50 times and suffered 15 interceptions, both league highs. His 57.4% completion rate and 6.0 yards per attempt were the worst of his career.
Wentz will be the Colts’ fifth different starting quarterback in as many season openers, following Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Andrew Luck and Scott Tolzien.
He must play an integral role if the Colts are going to win their first opener since 2013.
Fisher out, Nelson questionable
Left tackle Eric Fisher (Achilles), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf) and defensive end Kemoko Turay (groin) have been ruled out of Sunday’s game.
Quenton Nelson is questionable. The All-Pro left guard was held out of Wednesday’s practice with a back issue, was limited Thursday and a full participant Friday.
“Today was his first full day, so we just need to make sure that (Saturday) he wakes up and he’s good,’’ Reich said. “It’s really just going to depend on how he continues to respond.
“Quenton’s the kind of guy if there’s any way he can be ready, he’ll go.’’
Before Nelson’s back issue flared up this week, he was in rehab mode following Aug. 3 surgery on his right foot.
Nelson has started all 51 games, including the postseason, since being selected with the 6th overall pick in the April draft.
Rhodes was unable to practice all week after aggravating a calf injury.
“At first I thought it was just going to be a couple-of-days thing to be honest with you, and now it’s kind of like I’m not sure,’’ Reich said. “We’ll get to next week and re-evaluate at the beginning of next week. It wasn’t anything as simple as I originally thought it was going to be.
“I thought it would be he’ll probably be fine and then it ended up being a little bit worse than what we thought.’’
The lack of practice time, not the status of his Achilles, is the reason Fisher was ruled out of Sunday’s game.
“Just not enough,’’ Reich said. “He has gotten better each of the couple of days he’s practiced. Looks good, feels good, but you know conditioning (and) was out 10 days with COVID.
“We’ll just keep progressing with him week-to-week.’’
There seems to be a good chance Fisher makes his Colts’ debut Sept. 19 against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I mean, I don’t think we’d rule it out,’’ Reich said. “I think we keep it in play and see if he can continue to get better every day.’’