In the midst of the significant decision made yesterday by owner Jim Irsay to release Bill Polian and Chris Polian from their duties, the players came in for their exit physicals. While the results of those physicals have not been published, the end of the league year will see all IR'd players removed from that designation. However, that of course doesn't guarantee that those players will be healthy and ready for OTAs, training camp or even next year. This post examines the likely return timeframe for each of the players on IR, and for one who never went on IR but should have...
To start with the latter, it was expected that QB Peyton Manning would fail his physical so he could continue to rehabilitate at the Colts complex. In fact, Manning reported that he was already discussing his rehab schedule with Polian when Polian was summoned to meet with Irsay. Rumors have floated that Manning is as much as 90% ready, but the fact that he never returned to the field in 2011 casts some doubt on his status. My uninformed guess is that he will be ready by OTAs... the question is for which team.
The following lists the remaining players on IR, their injury, injury date, and my guess as to when they will be ready again. To simplify the post (and honestly, to hedge my bets a bit), I've captured the estimate as either a return by OTAs (mid-May through early June), Training Camp (early August through mid-August), or other. Note that the table focuses only on when I think the player will be ready to return to football, not whether he will be back with the Colts or even return to football.
|Player||Injury||Date of Injury||Placed on IR||Estimated Return|
|Gary Brackett||Left shoulder||Sep 11||Sep 28||Training Camp|
|Stevie Brown||Hamstring||Nov 6||Nov 29||OTAs|
|Melvin Bullitt||Right shoulder||Sep 18||Sep 28||Training Camp|
|Kerry Collins||Concussion||Sep 25||Oct 25||OTAs|
|Eric Foster||Dislocated right ankle||Oct 3||Oct 5||Training Camp|
|Chris Gronkowski||Torn pectoral||Oct 23||Oct 25||Early season|
|Ben Ijalana||Torn left ACL||Oct 3||Oct 5||Training Camp|
|Terrence Johnson||Forearm||Dec 4||Dec 5||OTAs|
|Drake Nevis||Tailbone||Oct 3||Dec 6||OTAs|
|Seth Olsen||Hand||Oct 30||Nov 9||OTAs|
|Jerraud Powers||Dislocated elbow||Dec 4||Dec 5||OTAs|
|Jaimie Thomas||Back||Aug 1 (?)||Aug 19||OTAs|
|Philip Wheeler||Right foot||Dec 11||Dec 28||Training Camp|
|Blair White||Knee||Oct 30||Nov 12||OTAs|
|James Williams||Foot||Aug 1 (?)||Aug 9||OTAs|
Laura, thanks for the article. I was just talking to a friend about guys on IR and we were wondering who would be back and when.
Does it bother anyone else that Ijalana played about a half of football before being injured for the year? I know it could be just one of those things, and I hope he can make a full recovery. It just scares me because the guy never played against big time players in college, so we really don't know what to expect.
You definitely have a valid concern. I thought Ijalana was solidly good - not necessarily great - in the little time we saw him. I am definitely concerned at how an ACL repair will impact his ability and confidence. Additionally, he tweeted on December 28 that he was going through his 3rd surgery of the year (https://twitter.com/#!/TheBiggerBen/status/152243024573890560, https://twitter.com/#!/TheBiggerBen/status/153269285429583873) - this seems out of the ordinary to me if all 3 of those surgeries were associated with his ACL injury (which he implies by calling it the "third and final part" before he returns to Indy).
Laura, one of the things that really bothered me about Irsay's presser yesterday, was in his answer to Peyton being able to play again, he referenced a "safety" as well as a health issue.
It is my understanding that the neck fusion leaves Peyton no more vunerable than any other football player. (Especially when we learn that Kelvin Hayden played D-back this season after having the same procedure.) For Peyton, it is all about nerve regeneration and arm strength... am I right about that?
This bothers me because Irsay citing this "safety" element, makes me fearful that he has a hidden agenda.
From my understanding, Doug, you are right - once the fusion is healed there is no additional vulnerability. A number of doctors, including Dr. Wellington in his landmark study on NFL players who had the same surgery, have indicated this. It seems like there would have to be some additional, previously unrevealed, factor that would implicate Peyton's safety... heck he was allowed back on the sidelines within a few weeks of his surgery!
The hidden agenda I'm hoping for is that Irsay is continuing to pimp the value of the first overall pick while Peyton has a chance to improve.
@LovinBlue Thanks Laura. I sure hope you are right about the "pimp the value of the first overall pick"... but I have lost all faith that even a totally healthy #18 will ever play for the Colts again.
@DougEngland Reading your comment, I have the worst thought ever. If it was all smokescreen and mirrors, what if the Polians were actually fired because they wanted to keep Manning and Irsay had already made the choice to let him go, citing the safety concern? No, please no. Please let it be as absurd as it sounds, Football Deity of Scintillating QB Play.
Good post, Laura. Surprised to see Gronkowski´s injury is the one that will take the longest to heal. I would have expected it to be Ijalana´s, honestly.
Too many dam injuries. Colts must have problem with their strength and conditioning program. They have more injuries every year than anyone. Maybe they should make their players start drinking milk or something.
@timmysykesuglyjewdick That's an interesting question that perhaps Laura can help with. I hope she's out there and can perhaps shed some light with her experience here as to the frequency of injuries.
Every year we hear that injuries must mean the strength and conditioning staff is to blame yet many other teams face similar problems. Buffalo, Carolina, St. Louis and Jacksonville all have horrific numbers of injuries. Minnesota and Green Bay also have significant injuries. Are those all a function of poor conditioning programs? Those teams don't draft smallish guys either.
Perhaps, as Mr. Indianapolis Colts suggests, this is at least in part related to bad luck. To be more exact, injury is simply a function of playing the game.
@timmysykesuglyjewdick I think it's a combination of drafting smallish-guys and bad luck. The Colts defense is designed to be undersized and fast, and the resulting collisions over the course of a brutal season don't bode well physically for guys who are giving up 25-50 lbs to begin with. This could also be a contributing factor to the Polians heading out, as their draft strategy usually targeted guys who were successful in college, but who were just a few ticks below "ideal" size for their position. Freeney and Mathis are both considered undersized for DEs, Brackett and Angerer are undersized MLBs, Bullitt and Sanders are (were) undersized safeties, Drake Nevis and Eric Foster are undersized DTs, and so on.
Out of this list I expect to see Foster, Ijalana, Nevis, Powers, and Wheeler back.
Brackett has the advantage of experience but Angerer's ready to take over the starting MLB spot, and I can't see him accepting a backup role.
Bullitt has been replaced. He played out of his mind for one season, but has been only okay for the rest. I expect we'll draft a replacement this year.
@monkeybiz I think Brackett will move back to MLB and Angerer will take over the WILL or SAM spot. I think Angerer has definitely earned the right to start, but cutting Brackett doesn't make much sense financially. Angerer, Conner and Brackett will be the starters at LB next year, imo.
@mr. Indianapolis Colts @monkeybiz
It would only save about a million against the cap this season. His contract jumps to about 7 million in 2013, though. Probably pretty high in '14, too. Irsay said "rebuilding" a few times. I doubt that includes keeping a guy who has been outplayed by his replacement, has a ton of money due, and has been hurt the last two years. Also, Angerer has played well, because he is a MLB. Why switch him back to the position where he struggled when he's been the standout on defense this season?
@PeytonTheManning@mr@monkeybiz I love Gary Brackett. But honestly, after the season Angerer has had, I see no reason not consider him the starting MIKE next year and beyond. Unless he proves he has become as good at an outside linebacker spot as he was during the offseason. But making him switch spots just to retain Brackett? No.
I hope Nevis can get his injury sorted out - for a tailbone injury, it certainly lingered a lot longer than you would think, ultimately landing him on the IR.
There are a few names here I don't expect to be back with the team next year - mainly KC and Bullitt. Despite the great play of Angerer at MLB all year, I still expect Brackett to be back. Kravitz was on the Dan Dakich show last week going over 2012 cap numbers and said that if the Colts were to cut Brackett, they'd only save about $200K against the cap even though he's due something like $5 million. I don't know exactly how that works, but it made the idea of cutting Brackett for cap measures sound extremely unreasonable.