For the first time since July 29, Indianapolis Colts training camp included a participant wearing a red No. 2 jersey.
Three weeks to the day after having surgery to remove a bone from his left foot, Carson Wentz returned to the practice field today.
In his rehab regiment, getting on the practice field and testing out the foot was always going to be a major step in returning to game action for Wentz. This would be the most the foot had been pushed since surgery.
“I feel pretty good,” Wentz said to reporters following Monday's practice. “A lot of it is just kind of continuing to introduce new stimulus and see how (the foot) reacts. But it feels pretty good – in a pretty confident spot with it.”
Wentz took part in all individual drills with the rest of the quarterbacks and took all of the reps in the 7-on-7 periods. Wentz was seen throughout practice testing out the foot with various cutting maneuvers and roll-outs to see what the foot could handle.
The extra 7-on-7 work was attributed to the fact that Wentz did not participate in 11-on-11 work, as Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger continued to split reps during that portion of practice.
“I talked with the trainers really over the weekend, and this was kind of next in the progression of the rehab,” Wentz said. “It’s a lot of fun. It was good to get back out there again with the guys. Obviously, I didn’t take any team reps, so I got as much work as I could without being in the team environment. It was a good day.”
While Wentz didn’t have his best day on the practice field, he most certainly didn’t look like a quarterback who had missed the last three weeks of practice either. According to George Bremer, Wentz went 20-of-29 (69%) with an interception that bounced off the hands of Tyler Vaughns. Wentz threw the ball with precision, finding guys like T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, and Kylen Granson all over the field.
“I thought Carson looked good,” head coach Frank Reich said to reporters following Monday's practice. “When I first saw him popping around out there I thought, ‘That looks pretty good.’ I had seen a little of it indoors, but just seeing it out here on the grass and kind of the speed he was moving, I thought he looked good. The big question now is how does it respond?”
How Wentz’s foot responds will be huge in how the Colts proceed with his rehab. The Colts want to make sure there are no setbacks as there are now less than three weeks until the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
“I listen to the trainers,” Wentz reiterated. “I know without the trainers I’d probably overdo it. So, I listen to them and what they have to say – the trainers, the doctors, and we’ve been really toeing the line well on the progressive side but listen to their advice.”
“There’s still stuff that we have to work through, which is part of the plan,” Wentz added. “You might not see me out here every single day, there might be some rest built in here or there, but it’s just about feeling comfortable and continuing to push it a little bit but let it heal at the same time and toeing that line every day.”
Rest days are to be expected right now for Wentz. Pushing the foot too hard too fast will only lead to setbacks and cause the injury to take longer to heal.
Three weeks until the opener still gives the Colts and Wentz plenty of time to make sure he is ready. While both parties would love to see him taking all of the first-team reps in practice right now to make up for the time he has lost, they are taking the smart approach and making sure the foot continues to heal while getting in the most work they can. As of right now, he looks to be ahead of schedule.
“I’m probably a little bit surprised,” Reich said when asked if he thought Wentz would be out here already. “Beforehand when the docs said what they said, I thought after we got to three weeks we could maybe start doing some things like throwing. I think what helped was that the surgery was best-case scenario, everything went well and the recovery was really quick. It feels to me that we are a week ahead of what I thought we may be. I thought best-case scenario was going to be him starting to do what he did next week. I didn’t really think it was going to be this week.”
With Wentz progressing like he is, there is now a legitimate shot that he will be starting Week One for the Colts, and it’s certainly what the quarterback is shooting for.
“I’m optimistic but we’ll see,” Wentz explained. “Honestly, it’s not fully my call like I was saying, it’s going to come down to the doctors and surgeons and trainers and seeing how we feel. A lot will depend on how I respond and how the foot feels day after day after being out here.”
How his foot responds and how Wentz continues to progress will be the main focus as we close in on the regular season. But if I were to put money on it, my money is on No. 2 running out of the tunnel to a chorus of loud cheers at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 12.
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