It’s game on in the AFC South after news that Carson Wentz has been cleared to practice fully — just five weeks after surgery to repair a piece of bone that had broken loose in his left foot. The original timeline for Wentz’s return was five to 12 weeks. He has exceeded almost all expectations in his recovery.

Carson Wentz a ‘go’ for Week 1

Wentz’s improved status, revealed by Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich during his news conference on Wednesday, suggests he will start Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. Jacob Eason, who was on standby to start any games Wentz missed, will presumably serve as Indianapolis’ backup, barring a setback.

“I feel very optimistic, very confident in it and so we’ll see as long as the doctors give me the final go-ahead, but I’m optimistic,” Wentz said Wednesday.

Wednesday’s news was by far the best mojo Wentz has experienced all preseason. The start to his time as an Indianapolis Colt has been marred by one setback after another.

First came the injury, which occurred a week into training camp. He had an issue with his foot that predated his time in Indy. Still, it worsened when Wentz began preparing for the 2021 season in late July. Doctors ultimately determined Wentz needed surgery to fix the issue. And there was fear that he could miss a third of the regular season as he recovered.

But Wentz proved to be a quick healer and was set to participate in 11-on-11 drills in late August — an important benchmark in his recovery. That was undone by a five-day stint on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list after Wentz had an unvaccinated close contact with someone who tested positive.

Wentz has spent time recovering from injury and on COVID-19 list

Upon his return last week, Wentz declined to explain why he is refusing the vaccine, calling it a “personal decision.”

That personal decision leaves him at risk of missing games at any time. A positive test would keep him out of action for at least 10 days. And a close contact on Thursday would make him ineligible to play on Sunday.

But assuming that Wentz — whose time in Philadelphia was derailed by knee, back, and head injuries — stays healthy, the Colts should be a handful for the defending AFC South champion Tennessee Titans.

Carson Wentz Fantasy Outlook

The biggest concerns I have about Carson Wentz heading into Week 1 are his mobility and time away. He’s heading into the Colts opener with limited time due to a foot injury and being placed on the COVID-19 list. Wentz is also facing a Seahawks defense whose quality of play steadily improved last season.

Wentz could be rusty in the season opener. This could result in the team’s leaning heavily on running back Jonathan Taylor, who gave us a glimpse late last season from Weeks 11-17 of what’s he capable of. He played 61% of the team’s offensive snaps during that time frame, averaging 22.7 opportunities, 139.5 total yards, and an impressive 24.3 PPR fantasy ppg. Wentz can be viewed as more of a mid-range QB2 in this matchup, considering the limited receiving weapons at his disposal.

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