INDIANAPOLIS – The season opener still is more than two weeks away, but the Indianapolis Colts are dealing with COVID-19 issues.
Early Thursday, the team placed offensive tackle Eric Fisher on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Later, they added All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson.
They’re the latest Colts personnel to deal with COVID-19 issues; either as having tested positive or being close-contact individuals. The NFL and teams do not specify on COVID-19-related matters.
Previously, cornerback Xavier Rhodes, offensive tackle Julién Davenport and defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad were placed on the COVID-19 list but subsequently were cleared to return to training camp.
Also, coach Frank Reich and defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus were “breakthrough’’ positive tests and quarantined. Both returned to their duties. Another unnamed staff member was placed on the COVID-19 list as camp began.
Fisher opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) while continuing his rehab from a torn Achilles. He isn’t expected to be ready to play until mid-September at the earliest, and the required quarantine will impact his rehab.
Nelson is optimistic he’ll be ready for the Sept. 12 opener against Seattle after undergoing surgery Aug. 3 on his right foot.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back for week 1,’’ he said Wednesday as training camp ended at Grand Park Sports Campus.
Nelson returned to positional drills Monday.
The issue now, though, is how much time he might miss while dealing with the COVID-19 matter.
Under the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols, a player must quarantine from his team from 5-10 days, depending on his vaccination status and the reason for being placed on the list.
The Colts remain one of the least-vaccinated teams in the league. They opened camp in the 65% vaccination range, and Reich recently said the rate had “gotten better.’’
“I think the last number I had heard was 75-ish percent,’’ he said, “but I don’t know the exact percentage number.
“It’s leveled off a bit, but we’ll continue to try to encourage and educate our players and the organization on what we believe is the right thing.’’
Reich, general manager Chris Ballard, and owner Jim Irsay have repeatedly spoken of the importance of everyone being vaccinated.
The NFL has proposed to the players’ union that vaccinated players should be tested seven days instead of every 14 days as is currently the case. Unvaccinated players are tested daily. The NFLPA has proposed daily testing for all players.
In a conference call Thursday, Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said 93% of all players are vaccinated. He also noted that in testing done Aug. 1 through Aug. 21, 7,190 tests had been administered with 68 positive tests, a positivity rate of 0.95%.
Dr. Sills said unvaccinated players are seven times more likely to test positive (2.2%) than unvaccinated players (0.3%).
“I feel we are in a much better place than we were last year at this time . . . we have a much more complete understanding of this virus and its transmission, and the testing and identification of it,’’ Dr. Sills said.
The Tennessee Titans have been hit hard with COVID-19 issues.
According to ESPN, which cited unnamed sources, the Titans have nine players and coaches who have tested positive for COVID-19. That includes quarterback Ryan Tannehill and coach Mike Vrabel. Special teams coach Craig Aukerman also is in COVID-19 protocol.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.