INDIANAPOLIS – Carson Wentz wasn’t sure he would play Sunday against the Tennessee Titans until after his morning workout on the field.
A badly sprained right ankle and mildly sprained left ankle made it difficult for him to walk Monday and Tuesday, and it was Thursday before he started to believe he might not miss the game. He practiced Friday, recovered Saturday and convinced the coaches and medical staff he was healthy enough to play just hours before the game at Nissan Stadium.
“Honestly, I feel like it was the grace of God that I was even able to compete out here today the way earlier this week looked,” Wentz said. “Credit to the training staff in getting me ready to go. But, yeah, I am very confident (it will continue to heal) just how quickly it is already from not really even being able to walk (the) first two days this week to playing today. I’m very confident that we can progress this thing along and be myself.”
The 28-year-old quarterback certainly wasn’t himself in the 25-16 loss against the Titans.
His numbers were OK given the circumstances – 19-of-37 for 194 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions – but the limitations were obvious. Wentz lacked the mobility to evade pressure and extend plays, and it showed up in Indianapolis’ 4.6-yard average per pass attempt.
The quarterback had to play a style that goes against his nature, looking for quick throws underneath and focusing on pre-snap reads more than on-the-go improvisation.
“It changes your mentality a little bit, and there’s some of that I need to work on regardless, and I know that,” Wentz said. “Kind of going into it, (head) Coach (Frank Reich) knew it. He wanted to call that game that way to help me get the ball out of my hands. Credit the Titans. They did some good things to kind of make the reads really cloudy and did some different pressures – a lot of stuff that we hadn’t seen on film yet.
“Obviously, I’ll go back and watch the tape, but they did a good job making it hard on us.”
Reich admitted he called the game differently than he would have with a healthy quarterback but added that’s no excuse.
The offense gained just 265 total yards and was 3-for-12 on third down. The red-zone struggles also continued with just one touchdown on three trips inside Tennessee’s 20-yard line.
“I thought Carson did a good job understanding what his limitations were and playing within that,” Reich said. “He is our quarterback, and we felt like him at whatever – 70% or 80%, whatever he is – is our best option to beat a very good football team on the road. … I think there’s plenty of opportunities in this game — in a closely contested game – to win that game.”
Still, the fact Wentz had to play with obvious limitations underscored the lack of depth at the game’s most important position.
CBS Sports reported veteran Brett Hundley – with just nine career starts and 18 appearances – was elevated from the practice squad to serve as the primary backup ahead of second-year passer Jacob Eason and would have started if Wentz couldn’t play. The only other quarterback under contract – rookie Sam Ehlinger – injured his knee late in the preseason and is on injured reserve.
Despite Wentz’s confidence, the ankles promise to continue being a problem for at least the immediate future. He’s not sure yet what his practice schedule will look like next week, but there’s a chance he’ll miss more time before the trip to Miami.
“Those are all kinds of things we’ll see as we go, type of things – see where I’m at, take it every day,” Wentz said. “(If) there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s literally take it day by day with this type of stuff. We’ll see what that looks like come Wednesday morning and evaluate as we go.”
THEY SAID IT
“It sucks. That sucks. Especially being a true competitor, that sucks. That sucks being 0-3. This is a sick taste in my mouth. When you talk about 1-0, 1-0 – but, damn, we got to get 1-0 and we got to get there soon. Hopefully, we got to find a way to get the job done.” – linebacker Darius Leonard on the Colts’ first 0-3 start in 10 years.
The hits keep coming for Indianapolis with four starters leaving Sunday’s loss early.
Left guard Quenton Nelson (ankle) was injured on a fourth-and-1 conversion in the first half. He was joined on the sideline by rookie defensive end Kwity Paye (hamstring), safety Khari Willis (groin) and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (ankle).
No further details was immediately available for any of the injured players.