A Top Player on Colts' Defense Sidelined by COVID

DeForest Buckner played more than any of Indianapolis' defensive linemen in the Week 10 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

Update, 9:45 a.m. (CST) Friday: DeForest Buckner tested positive for the coronavirus and will not be available for Sunday's game at Indianapolis, according to reports Friday morning. Buckner has been a key contributor to the Colts' success on defense this season. 

Original story

The Indianapolis Colts could be without one of their top players on defense Sunday when they host the Tennessee Titans in a critical AFC South matchup.

Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Wednesday. The team announced the move Wednesday afternoon.

It is unclear whether the one-time Pro Bowler tested positive for the coronavirus or if the move is the result of contact tracing. If it is the former, Buckner will miss the game against the Titans, a matchup of 7-3 teams currently tied atop the division (players who test positive must be out for a minimum of 10 games). If it is the latter, it is possible he could play provided subsequent tests come back negative.

Through 10 games, Buckner has 33 total tackles, 2.5 sacks, and his team-leading 16 quarterback hits are a third of the team’s total.

When the Colts defeated the Titans 34-17 two weeks ago at Nissan Stadium, the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder had three of the team’s five quarterback hits on Ryan Tannehill. Buckner played more snaps in that contest than any other member of Indianapolis’ defensive line (72 percent).

Indianapolis acquired Buckner in a March trade with San Francisco and immediately signed him to a five-year, $21 million contract extension. They gave up the 13th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to get him.

He had a career-high 12 sacks in 2018, when he was named to the Pro Bowl.

With him, the Colts’ defense is one of two currently allowing fewer than 300 yards per game (298.1). That unit leads the AFC and is third in the NFL in rushing defense, second in the AFC and fourth in the NFL in pass defense and fifth in the league in scoring defense.