Colts DT Denico Autry placed on COVID-19 list in huge blow to defense

Colts DL Denico Autry (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Colts DL Denico Autry (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Colts defensive lineman Denico Autry was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list ahead of Sunday’s game against Green Bay.

The Indianapolis Colts will face their toughest test of the season this Sunday when they welcome the streaking Green Bay Packers to Lucas Oil Stadium. We all know that Aaron Rodgers and Co. could present a world of problems for Indy’s elite defense, so it goes without saying that they are going to need all hands on deck for that matchup.

Unfortunately for the Colts, however, that will not be the case as defensive lineman Denico Autry was ruled out for the game after being placed on the COVID-19 reserve list. The 30-year-old veteran was held out of practice on Thursday due to an illness, and now we know why.

It’s unclear whether Autry contracted the virus, but that’s not entirely important here. We obviously wish him a speedy recovery from whatever he’s dealing with, but you better believe that his absence will be felt against Green Bay.

What a crushing blow a little less than 48 hours until kickoff. If there’s a silver lining to be had here, however, it no doubt comes with the news that the NFL determined Indianapolis had no high-risk close contacts, meaning that the rest of the roster will be available for Sunday.

After the Colts announced that Autry was battling an illness, they held fellow defensive lineman Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis and Al-Quadin Muhammad out of Thursday’s practice for precautionary reasons. In light of the league’s ruling, all three players returned to the practice field on Friday.

That’s a huge relief, but they better come ready to play because it won’t be easy to replace Autry, who, despite not receiving many plaudits, is every bit as important to Indianapolis’ defense as some of the other high-profile members of the group.

Through nine games, the seventh-year pro has played 69.4% of the defensive snaps, leads the Colts with six sacks, and only trails DT DeForest Buckner for the team lead in quarterback hits. It was never going to be easy to beat the Packers (even at home), and that task just became all the more difficult for head coach Frank Reich and Co.