It’s often said that winning a Super Bowl isn’t necessarily about who’s the best team, but who’s the healthiest. With a 17-game season and multiple playoff games in a physical sport like football, naming a champion can ultimately come down to what team has the best remaining players. As the Indianapolis Colts make a push for the playoffs so that they can compete for a Super Bowl, they are currently facing the challenge of getting their best players healthy.
Indianapolis has been without star running back Jonathan Taylor since Week 12. In Week 15, the Colts were without starting right tackle Braden Smith. During the Week 15 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis lost running back Zack Moss and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. All four are key players to Indy’s offense.
The Colts were ultimately able to still get a win against Pittsburgh, thanks in part to DJ Montgomery, Trey Sermon, and Tyler Goodson stepping up. While it’s great that Indianapolis has guys that can step up when needed, Indy’s ceiling will be determined by the health of its best players.
When will the Colts have their top players back?
The good news is that all of these four players are expected to return this season and could be on the field as soon as Sunday, when Indianapolis takes on the Atlanta Falcons. On Saturday, NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Jonathan Taylor has a realistic chance to return to the lineup against Atlanta. Per Adam Schefter, Zack Moss is also planning to play on Sunday, despite injuring his shoulder on Saturday.
Having the team’s top two running backs would be great; adding in the team’s No. 1 receiver would be even better. Pittman suffered a concussion on a hit that has sparked conversation in the NFL world. While Pittman’s progress through concussion protocol is currently unknown, players returning the week after suffering a concussion has been rare this season. We’ll see if Pittman can be one of the few to do it. Either way, he should return to the lineup before the regular season concludes.
As for Braden Smith, who didn’t practice at all last week as he dealt with a knee injury, his availability will be determined by this week of practice. If the Colts can get all four back on the field, they’ll have a pretty good chance of finishing the season strong and making some noise in the playoffs.