DeForest Buckner among key defensive players out for crucial matchup vs. Titans
The Indianapolis Colts were dealt a potential blow when star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner landed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.
Buckner has indeed tested positive for COVID-19, rendering him inactive for Sunday’s pivotal matchup against the Tennessee Titans. However, Buckner is not the only notable absence.
Mike Wells of ESPN reported–in addition to Buckner–the Colts will be without Denico Autry and Bobby Okereke.
Colts will be missing key defensive players against Titans. Coach Frank Reich rules out DeForest Buckner, Denico Autry and Bobby Okereke.
— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNFL) November 27, 2020
This is poor timing for the Colts as they prepare to take on the Titans and rushing leader Derrick Henry.
Buckner and Autry have arguably been the team’s most impactful defensive players up front.
The Colts paid a high price for Buckner, trading the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 draft to the San Francisco 49ers before signing the former Pro Bowler to a big extension.
But Buckner has delivered, establishing himself as a run-stuffer while also racking up a team-high 16 quarterback hits on the season.
Meanwhile, Autry has also made the most of being part of Indy’s revamped front seven. Autry leads the Colts with 7.0 sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Okereke has proven himself capable against the run while also racking up four passes defended from the linebacker spot.
The Colts will have to get things done by committee in this AFC South battle.
Tennessee comes into the contest with some momentum after earning a big overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens last weekend. Henry broke loose in the second half and won the game with a 29-yard touchdown scamper in OT.
Indianapolis struggled to contain Henry (103 yards on 19 carries) in Week 10. The Colts will have to batten down the hatches to stop Henry without three of their top defensive players on the field.