Notebook: Colts won’t change approach of doing more to protect QBs in COVID-19 environment


Philip Rivers #17 of the Indianapolis Colts speaks with coaches during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on November 12, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – The Denver debacle didn’t go unnoticed, but neither did it convince Frank Reich to alter the way he’s handling his quarterbacks’ room.

It will be business as usual – quarterbacks in the building whenever it’s allowed, and on the practice field – although that’s always subject to change.

That’s one of the hot-button topics in the NFL in the aftermath of Denver being without a legitimate quarterback in its 31-3 drilling at the hands of New Orleans last Sunday.

Third-string QB Jeff Driskel was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list Nov. 26 following a positive test, and the other three – starter Drew Lock, backup Brett Rypien and practice squad QB Blake Bortles – joined him on the COVID-19 list as “high-risk’’ individuals. They all met three days before the Saints game to review game tape and did not follow proper league protocol that called for masks to be worn at all times.

Practice squad wideout Kendall Hinton, who occasionally played quarterback at Wake Forest, was QB1 against the Saints. He was 1-for-9 for 13 yards and two interceptions.

Reich and his Indianapolis Colts’ staff have discussed how to best handle their quarterbacks, including having backup Jacoby Brissett be on the practice field with his teammates, but participate in meetings remotely.

“I’ve talked about it with Jacoby,’’ Reich said. “There have been multiple weeks where we thought, ‘OK, Jacoby, you just stay home and then come in for practice.’ We haven’t done that at this point just because we feel so confident that we’re going above and beyond all of the precautions of the protocol, especially in the quarterback room because of the nature of that position and how hard it is to replace that position.’’

Philip Rivers, Brissett and rookie Jacob Eason are “taking every precaution,’’ Reich added. “I give those guys a lot of credit.

“At this point, we felt like we can keep everybody in the building because the responsibility that those guys are putting on their shoulders.’’

Rivers’ routine consists of spending much of each day at the Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center, but then going home to his wife, Tiffany, and nine children. As much as possible, he takes a business-as-usual approach in this COVID-19 pandemic environment.

Rivers talked about the “trust factor and a level of you can only control so much.’’

“I’m going to be dad at home and be the same way that I know,’’ he said. “There is a level of that that I do not feel as reckless. I feel like there is a certain priority there of being a dad and husband at home that I’m not going to change necessarily how we operate under our roof.

“At the same time, you do everything else you can. You’re certainly not reckless . . . each week that passes that you feel like you’ve gotten through it, you move on to the next one. But you don’t take any day or game for granted as crazy as it is.

“Certainly seeing that Denver thing from that standpoint – credit to the building, Frank and the whole building, all the guys involved keeping us in tune every week, every day as far as the tracers and the mask and everything and making sure we’re distant in the meetings.’’

Toe update

Rivers was held out of Wednesday’s practice as he’s still dealing with a toe injury suffered in the Nov. 22 Green Bay game. It was a precautionary move, similar to last week when Rivers didn’t practice Wednesday but returned Friday following Thanksgiving.

“Definitely a week better than last Wednesday at this time,’’ he said. “Certainly feel good about that. As I told y’all last week, I honestly told y’all last week I had no concerns about being able to go. Certainly don’t have any concerns this week.

“It’s just a matter of continuing to just monitor a little bit of the soreness more than anything. After the game, (it was) pretty sore but don’t want to just continue to keep yourself sore all week long if you can help it a little bit.’’

Sanchez update

Reich said Rigoberto Sanchez was “at home resting’’ after the veteran punter underwent Tuesday surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.

“Get him rested up, and the prognosis is very positive,’’ he said.

Reich wouldn’t speculate whether Sanchez’s recovery would allow him to return to the team this season.

“Fair question, obviously, because we love Rigo, and we did talk today to the punt team about, ‘Hey, in Rigo’s absence, let’s have our best effort because Rigo is our guy and one of the best in the league. In his absence, however long that is, let’s be at our best,’’’ Reich said.

“But I don’t mind telling you, the prognosis is positive for Rigo. So we’re hopeful, and we’re hopeful it’s not months. I don’t know (about a return this season). This is out of my league, but the reports we’re getting are very positive.’’

Reich added the team is in the process of signing a free agent to replace Sanchez. That includes that player going through the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol.

Taylor returns

Jonathan Taylor returned to the active roster and Wednesday’s practice. The rookie running back missed the Titans game after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a “high-risk’’ individual.

Medical update

Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice after missing the Titans game with a neck injury.

Among players not practicing were left tackle Anthony Castonzo (knee), backup tackle Chaz Green (back), linebacker Bobby Okereke (ankle) and safety Khari Willis (back/quad).

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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