INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The five-week hiatus has been uncharted territory for Donte Moncrief.
“Never in my life ever missed a game,’’ the Indianapolis Colts’ veteran receiver said Wednesday. “This is the first one, so first time for everything.’’
Now, though, it’s apparently time for Moncrief to get back to work.
Idled since suffering a fractured left scapula in a week two collision with Denver safety T.J. Ward, he returned to the practice field Wednesday. It was in a limited capacity, but all signs point toward Moncrief being available Sunday when the Colts entertain the Kansas City Chiefs in Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I’m hopeful,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said.
Moncrief added he would “be surprised’’ if he’s not back for the Chiefs.
Again, standing and watching have been foreign to him. Prior to injuring his shoulder, Moncrief had appeared in all 37 games with the Colts, including the playoffs. At Mississippi, he started 37 of 38 career games.
The most difficult aspect of the rehabilitation process has been “going to games on Sunday and watching those guys compete and have fun and want to be out there battling,’’ Moncrief said. “I like to be out there. I don’t like to miss anything.
“I miss playing. I miss being out there with my brothers and just helping the team.’’
Wednesday was the next step in the rehab process, and it’s important for him to return Thursday with no unexpected issues with the shoulder.
The most crucial phase of the process probably won’t occur until Sunday: taking a hit on the shoulder. The team’s weekly preparation doesn’t include contact drills.
“We don’t hit out there,’’ Moncrief said. “It’ll be Sunday to see how that feeling goes.
“I feel good. Going to go out there and test it today and see how it feels. Hopefully it’s a good feeling and I’ll be ready to go.’’
The Colts’ offense has been productive, ranking No. 9 in total yards per game (372.4), No. 7 in passing (273.6) and No. 4 in scoring (27.7).
The return of Moncrief should only add to quarterback Andrew Luck’s options. Before being injured, he had seven catches for 73 yards and one touchdown. The 2014 third-round draft pick had his best season in ’15: 64 receptions, 733 yards, six TDs.
“He’s a dynamic player, an incredibly good receiver (who’s) made a bunch of plays in the past,’’ Luck said. “Big, strong, fast, physical . . . a playmaker.
“Welcoming him back with open arms into the fold.’’
Moncrief has done a good job keeping himself in shape during the long layoff. He worked with the team’s training staff on the field at Nissan Stadium prior to Sunday’s game with the Tennessee Titans.
“I’ve been doing conditioning throughout the whole time,’’ Moncrief said. “Had to stay in shape. The worst thing to do is fall out of shape and have to get that back.
“Your arm’s hurt, that don’t mean you’ve got to stop your legs.’’
Along with Moncrief, five other players were limited Wednesday: defensive end Henry Anderson (knee), wideout Phillip Dorsett (hamstring), defensive tackle Zach Kerr (ankle), guard Jack Mewhort (triceps) and offensive tackle Joe Reitz (back).
Held out of practice were safety Mike Adams (rest), linebacker Robert Mathis (rest), cornerback Vontae Davis (rest), running back Frank Gore (rest), tight end Dwayne Allen (ankle), defensive end Kendall Langford (knee), linebacker Curt Maggitt (ankle) and wideout Chester Rogers (hamstring/foot).