Unvaccinated Colts quarterback Carson Wentz goes to COVID-19 list

The Colts were able to overcome the toll COVID-19 took on their roster on Christmas night in Arizona.

But Indianapolis might be facing an even bigger absence on Sunday against the Raiders, a game that would clinch a playoff spot for the Colts with a win.

The Colts placed starting quarterback Carson Wentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday, immediately placing his status for Sunday’s game in doubt.

However, the Colts and Wentz, who is not vaccinated, could catch a break with the NFL modifying its COVID protocol on Tuesday afternoon. Under the new NFL guidelines, individuals who are asymptomatic can return after five days in isolation, down from 10 days. That applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated players.

If Wentz is unable to play against the Raiders, the Colts would likely turn to his immediate backup, sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger, or veteran Brett Hundley, who served as the backup earlier this season and is currently on the practice squad.

Colts quarterback Carson Wentz signals a play against Arizona on Saturday.
Colts quarterback Carson Wentz signals a play against Arizona on Saturday.

Ehlinger has been Wentz's primary backup the past two months, a position he took over from Hundley after coming off injured reserve. Hundley, in turn, had won the job from Jacob Eason, and when Wentz's status was in doubt for the first Tennessee game because of his sprained ankles, the Colts moved Hundley into the starter's spot.

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Indianapolis could also try to bring back retired quarterback Philip Rivers, who has said he'd be open to joining a team now that his high school football coaching season is over, although Reich downplayed that possibility on Monday.

"No, right now, we're just in the situation that we're in," Reich said. "We’re happy with the guys that we’ve got here."

Wentz has been resolute in his decision to remain unvaccinated, even though unvaccinated players must be tested every day.

"I’m not going to go in depth on why, but it’s a personal decision for me and my family," Wentz said in August. "I respect everybody else’s decision, and I just ask that everybody does the same for me."

Wentz has played well, limiting mistakes and providing a big-play arm to an offense that has been carried by MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor at running back, all while playing 97.8% of the snaps to this point.

The Colts starter has thrown for 3,230 yards, 25 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Wentz is also coming off of his best moment of the season, carrying the Colts on two critical second-half drives to beat the Cardinals.

Buccanneers' Arians tests positive

Bruce Arians, coach of the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said Tuesday he has tested positive for COVID-19 and has mild symptoms.

Assistant coach Harold Goodwin will be interim head coach in Arians' absence.

The Buccaneers have five players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including standout wide receiver Mike Evans.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Carson Wentz, unvaccinated Colts QB, goes on COVID-19 list