Around the NFL: Colts’ Carson Wentz worry on the rise
An old high school football injury is haunting quarterback Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts.
Colts coach Frank Reich said a broken bone, the fifth metatarsal, is loose in Wentz’s foot, requiring a surgery that will sideline the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback between five and 12 weeks.
The unfortunate turn of events came to light when Wentz was rolling out to throw last week. Wentz has an extensive history of injuries, including tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2017.
“I think it was a gut punch for him for about two hours,” Reich said. “Knowing Carson, I’m optimistic. Knowing this is the type of injury you don’t have to be pain-free to play in. You have to get to an acceptable level of tolerating pain and then you can start playing. That could happen early.”
The Colts are going forward with former University of Washington quarterback Jacob Eason as their starter until Wentz returns or something better comes along.
A former fourth-round draft pick, Eason is known for his arm strength. However, he’s never played in an NFL regular season game. The Colts also have quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger, Jalen Morton and Brett Hundley on the roster.
“The job is Jacob’s right now,” Reich said. “He has to prove it. He knows that. Jacob’s in the driver’s seat.”
The Colts traded a third-round draft pick and a conditional second-round draft pick that rises to a 2022 first-round selection should Wentz play 75 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps, or if he plays 70 percent of the snaps and the Colts qualify for the postseason.
What if the Colts decide to pursue Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles? Of course, Foles won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles when Reich was his offensive coordinator.
Foles sounded fairly intrigued by the possibility Monday during an interview with Chicago reporters.
“Listen, Frank Reich is one of my favorite, if not favorite, coaches of all time,” Foles said. “He understands me as a player, he understands me as a person. I haven’t had any talks with him. I’m a Chicago Bear right now.
“They have Carson and Carson and I have a lot of history. I have a lot of respect for Carson, he’s a tremendous player. He’s going through a lot of adversity right now but he’ll bounce back. You know what, he might miss a few games but I know he’ll be back out there. But we haven’t had any talks and right now I’m a Chicago Bear so I’m going to keep slinging it with these third-stringers and we’re going to dice ’em up.”
–Vikings use tele-QB to solve COVID issues
The Minnesota Vikings are embroiled in an early COVID-19 crisis.
After rookie quarterback Kellen Mond, a third-round draft pick from Texas A&M, tested positive for COVID-19, he was placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list along with starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley as high-risk close contacts.
Although the Vikings have claimed quarterback Danny Etling off waivers and signed quarterback Case Cookus, the situation irked coach Mike Zimmer because of how it disrupted practice as Jake Browning was the only quarterback available for a Saturday night practice session.
“You know, quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I’m not surprised one bit,” Zimmer said. “I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated, not just with my football players who didn’t get vaccinated, but I’m frustrated with everybody [who didn’t]. We’ll just do the best we can. It’s just disappointing.”
–Awkward situation in Houston
This is a strange and awkward time between disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.
The NFL’s passing yardage leader from last season has a standing trade request and a no-trade clause in his $156 million contract, but reported to training camp to avoid $50,000 daily fines. Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct, a Houston Police Department active investigation of 10 complaints and a parallel NFL personal conduct investigation.
Watson remains a popular figure with his teammates.
The Texans’ players appear to be effectively and calmly compartmentalizing the situation, expressing support for Watson as a person while staying out of his unresolved business with management. They’re also embracing journeyman Tyrod Taylor, 31, as their new leader and quarterback.
“Absolutely, me and Deshaun are friends,” said Taylor, who has the same private quarterbacks coach, Quincy Avery, as Watson. “We’ve known each other for a number of years now. We’ve had conversations on the field, off the field, about football, about life. Everything has been a positive conversation, and it will continue to be that way.”
When asked if Watson’s ongoing presence at training camp is perhaps a distraction, Taylor replied: “No, it hasn’t. He’s part of the team. When we come out here, we’re all focused on working and getting better at every aspect. That’s different for every person.”
As complex and sensitive as the Watson legal situation continues to be with no resolution in sight with settlement talks inactive between the quarterback, who has denied wrongdoing through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, and the plaintiffs’ attorney, Tony Buzbee, Watson and teammates seem to be getting along great.
Watson frequently talks with offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and Taylor at practice, where he’s essentially an modestly invested observer.
“Deshaun, that’s my guy, love him to death,” Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus said. “Hate what’s happened to him. Just bring it for him every day honestly. Man, everything will sort itself out. God got it. I know that for a fact. He’s my guy at the end of the day.”
–Deadline in Buffalo
The clock is ticking in Buffalo in ongoing contract talks between star quarterback Josh Allen and Bills management.
It’s not two-minute drill time, but it’s approaching that kind of sense of urgency in Buffalo.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane underscored that business reality on Monday when he affirmed that he has set a preseason deadline to hammer out a blockbuster contract extension with the strong-armed former first-round draft pick from Wyoming.
If a deal isn’t completed before the first week of September, Beane indicated that talks would be tabled until next year. The Bills previously exercised a $23 million fifth-year option for Allen.
“Josh and I are in lockstep on that,” Beane said. “There will be no negotiating in-season. At some point we will press the pause button.”
–Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun and is on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.