The Colts’ playoff chances have been seriously under threat with injuries to key players in the wake of a season in which the team lost five straight games.
Andrew Luck was sidelined with a concussion, Frank Gore and Joe Mixon are dealing with knee and groin injuries and Andrew Luck missed the final four weeks with an ankle injury.
This season has been a nightmare for the Colts, who have dropped back-to-back games in the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
But after losing Luck for the final two games of the regular season, Indianapolis is hopeful it will be able to salvage some semblance of a playoff picture.
“We’re hoping we can be able [to win],” Luck said Wednesday.
“I don’t want to take any chances.
I’m a very smart player.
I know how to take those risks.”
Injuries and injuries are no longer the only concerns for Indianapolis, which has a depleted offensive line and a shaky secondary.
The Colts lost defensive lineman Michael Brockers to a broken leg in Week 4.
They also lost cornerback Leon Hall to a foot injury and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to a knee injury in Week 5.
It remains unclear whether or not Hall and Brockers will be available for Week 6.
The injury to Brockers is the second consecutive season Hall has missed significant time due to an injury.
Hall is currently sidelined with an undisclosed ailment.
He missed four games last season because of an undisclosed ankle injury, including a week in which he played in all 16 games.
The team also lost offensive lineman Tyler Kroft to a hamstring injury in a Week 5 loss to Detroit.
Kroft was the only other player to miss a game this season due to injury.
“That’s not a fair thing to happen, that’s not fair to the guys that we’ve lost that have contributed to this organization,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said.
“And I don’t care if it’s just us or if it was in the past.
It’s not like the way we play.”
In addition to the injury problems, the Colts lost their No. 1 cornerback, safety Tarell Brown to a season-ending knee injury, and receiver T.Y. Hilton suffered a concussion.
The loss of Brockers and Hall will hurt Indianapolis even more.
The former Heisman Trophy winner has been one of the Colts’ best players since he joined the team in 2015.
He caught 73 passes for 866 yards and four touchdowns, including an 86-yard touchdown reception in Week 2.
He had seven catches for 83 yards in his only other game this year, a Week 4 win over the Lions.
Hilton had a season high eight catches for 116 yards in the Colts 34-28 win at the Denver Broncos.
Rookie tight end Jake Butt will get his first start since he was inactive with an injury in the first half of the opener.
The 26-year-old is the only tight end who was active for the game.
He is listed as probable.
“He’s an important piece of this team,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of Butt.
“Tarell has a long career ahead of him.
He’s a tremendous player.
He just had a really good week last week.
He showed great toughness in coverage.”
Colts rookie wide receiver Jaelen Strong will get the start after returning from a knee sprain.
The 6-foot-2, 193-pound Strong has made a big impact on the offense in his rookie year, catching 11 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
The 5-foot, 10-inch Strong has the size and speed to be a factor in the red zone and in the return game.
Strong had 13 catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns in the second half of last season.
“It’s tough for everybody, but for me, it’s a blessing,” Colts tight end Andrew Luck said of having the veteran quarterback around.
“There are things I could’ve done better, things that I could have improved on.
I think that’s the biggest thing for him and that’s where he has a lot of confidence in me.”
Luck will need a big game in Week 6 to make up for his disappointing play against Detroit.
In addition, the injury to quarterback Andrew Luck will hurt the Colts even more, but the team has confidence that they can overcome the injuries.
“No, not at all,” Pagano told reporters.
“But I do think we have the tools to get back to where we want to be.”