INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – From all appearances, it was a normal Tuesday.
Players meandered through the locker room. A few were engaged in a spirited game of cornhole.
Jacoby Brissett held court at his cubicle at the Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center, which meant a weekly crash-the-party visit from Anthony Walker as the media encircled the Indianapolis Colts’ starting quarterback.
Then, we were reminded this wasn’t a normal Tuesday.
That was assured two days earlier at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field when Quenton Nelson fell into Brissett’s left knee. Brissett remained on the ground, grabbing a knee that tests would reveal sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament.
That’s why the bulk of his weekly give-and-take with the media wasn’t about the upcoming game – Sunday against 1-7 Miami at Lucas Oil Stadium – but his availability for that game.
How do you feel?
“I feel pretty good. I feel decent.”
Do you feel significantly different than you did Sunday?
“No question. I think so.”
Are things headed in a positive direction?
Do you think you’ll practice Wednesday?
“I think we’ll see in about 24 hours.”
Were you relieved by the results of the MRI?
“No question. I was relieved. That’s a great word for it.”
To summarize, everyone remains in a holding pattern regarding the status of the Colts’ starting QB. Brian Hoyer came off the bench in the second quarter and played well in the 26-24 loss to the Steelers, but this is Brissett’s offense and has been since Andrew Luck retired Aug. 24.
Ryan Kelly stood nearby as Brissett offered brief comments to each and every question. The veteran center suffered a neck injury at Pittsburgh – he isn’t a fan of the “stinger” or “burner” descriptions being bandied about – that forced him to miss a portion of the second quarter and all of the second half.
Kelly insisted he’ll be back in the lineup for the Dolphins – “I think we’re good,” he said – and won’t be surprised if he’s snapping the ball to Brissett.
“Nothing surprises me at this point,” he said. “He’s a tough-ass kid, a tough-ass guy. Every since day 1, he’s prepared himself that way.
“I have no doubts if he’s out there, he’ll kill it. If Hoyer’s in there, he’ll kill it as well.”
Initially, Walker was non-committal when asked if he expected Brissett to play.
“I think that’s Jacoby’s question and Frank Reich and Chris Ballard,” he said. “That’s above my pay grade. I’ll let them handle that one.”
But will he be surprised if Brissett’s under center?
“No. He’s a tough guy. We know that,” Walker said. “He’s played through a lot worse. He’ll be all right.”
As a rookie with the New England Patriots in 2016, Brissett appeared in three games and started two while Tom Brady was serving his four-game suspension. He played even after tearing a ligament in his right thumb. When Brady returned for week 5, the Patriots put Brissett on the injured reserve list.
And who can forget 2017 when the Colts acquired Brissett in an early September trade with the Patriots? He started the final 15 games and absorbed heavy abuse on a weekly basis. He was sacked a league-high 52 times and was diagnosed with a concussion in the aftermath of the week 10 loss to Pittsburgh. Brissett’s recovery was aided by the ensuing bye week and he didn’t miss the next game.
The uncertainty hovering over Brissett will lift as the week unfolds. If he plays, he’ll continue to wear a brace on his left knee.
Until Brissett’s status crystalizes, the Colts must prepare for both scenarios. The basic game plan for the Dolphins won’t necessarily change, but there are some things Brissett prefers that aren’t in line with what Hoyer’s comfortable with.
Part of Hoyer’s weekly routine as a backup is to have a sheet listing his play preferences that’s given to offensive assistant Jerrod Johnson . . . just in case. That became necessary Sunday.
“That was helpful,” Sirianni said. “Just trying to call things that he likes and also comfortable with because he hasn’t had a lot of reps.”
In general and with two quarterbacks in the mix, he added, “we’re just kind of doing it as we go. That’ll be things we talk about more and more as the night progresses. It’s not that it’s two game plans because there are going to be similar plays based off what their defense does and what our system is.
“We just adapt as we go.”
In other words, one day at a time. And that really begins Wednesday when it’s determined whether Brissett is fit enough to practice.
“We’ll see (Wednesday) how everyone’s feeling and go from there,” Sirianni said.
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