INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts will maintain an air of mystery about the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Jacoby Brissett was a limited participant in each practice this week, wearing a bulky brace on his left knee similar to those often sported by offensive linemen.
But the 26-year-old officially was listed as questionable on Friday’s injury report, and head coach Frank Reich said his availability will be a game-time decision.
“He’s made progress during the week, and in some ways I’m encouraged,” Reich said. “He’s looked OK during the week of practice, and we feel confident with some things that he’s done. But we need to take every day and every minute for him to get back and see if we can get comfortable.
“At the end of the day, we’ve gotta make the right decision. We’ve gotta make the right decision for him and for the team. But I am encouraged at some of the progress that he’s made. Will he be 100 percent? I don’t think there’s any way he’s 100 percent by Sunday.”
In truth, a final decision must be made before game day.
If Brissett can’t go, the Colts will need to call up former Ole Miss star Chad Kelly from the practice squad. They face a 4 p.m. deadline Saturday for that transaction.
That will provide the next checkpoint in this journey.
Veteran Brian Hoyer stands ready to make his 38th career start if necessary. Hoyer was 17-of-26 for 168 yards with three touchdowns and one interception after relieving Brissett in the second quarter of last week’s loss at Pittsburgh.
Though Brissett took the majority of the first-team snaps this week, Hoyer’s workload was increased.
“Normally, he gets zero plays, but he’s had some plays this week,” Reich said. “I don’t know the exact percentage or number, but he’s had his share of plays. And then we’ve gotten him some extra work after practice, and certainly he’s a pro. He’s getting ready in case he’s the starter.”
Brissett was injured early in the second quarter against the Steelers when left guard Quenton Nelson fell into his knee during a pass play. An MRI later revealed a sprained MCL, and Indianapolis has proceeded with caution.
Brissett briefly looked as though he might re-enter the game at Pittsburgh. He put his helmet back on at one point and appeared poised to take the field with the offense.
But doctors ultimately determined a lack of proper lateral movement presented too great a risk.
Reich said Friday several players have played with varying degrees of this injury at various positions. The key is risk management.
“Do you cross that threshold where there’s not too much risk?,” he said. “There’s always going to be some risk. We just want to get it to minimum risk.”
Tight end Eric Ebron spoke out Thursday about his limited role in the offense, and Reich took little offense.
He said it’s common for players to come into his office for discussions during the season, and the coaching staff is always looking to make sure the best personnel is in place on every play.
The head coach walked away with the belief he and Ebron are on the same page.
“We all want to win,” Reich said. “Eric wants to win, (and) we want to win. We line up, we go out there and really we talk about as a group there’s only one football – as a skill group. I think, as a group, we have an incredibly unselfish group, and I love that about our group. So we’ll just keep rolling with that.
“We celebrate each other’s successes. I think the guys understand how we game plan. I think they understand that we spread it around and that we literally think about every guy on every play, who’s the best guy to line up on this position for this play to help us win this game? At the end of the day, all that matters is winning the game, and everybody is into that and everybody believes that. So that’s what’s most important.”
Wide receivers Parris Campbell (hand) and T.Y. Hilton (calf) were ruled out for Sunday’s game. The Colts still are holding out the option of calling up a receiver from the practice squad with just four healthy bodies at the position this week.
Veteran Marcus Johnson and former Arizona Cardinals third-round pick Chad Williams are the options there.
Cornerbacks Pierre Desir (hamstring) and Quincy Wilson (shoulder) also are listed as questionable. Both players have been inactive in each of the past two weeks.
Cornerback Ken Webster (ankle) and safety Reshad Jones (chest) have been ruled out for Miami.