The Indianapolis Colts ended the the preseason schedule in much the same way that practice went for the team during the final full week of August — with a significant injury.
On the opening kickoff against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on August 27, safety and special teams ace Armani Watts suffered an ankle injury. He spent a few minutes on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium before a cart came onto the turf to assist him.
After the 27-10 Colts win, head coach Frank Reich told the media Watts’ ankle injury will sideline him for the rest of the 2022 NFL season.
Unfortunately, this means Watts may never play an official game for the Colts. He signed just a one-year deal worth a little less than $1.2 million with Indianapolis this offseason.
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Watts Leaves on Cart
With Watts leaving before the first snap, Colts fans received a taste of what the defensive lineup will look like without him this season. Watts was not projected to start but was going to make the roster as a depth player in the secondary and special teams contributor.
In place of Watts on August 27, Rodney Thomas and Rodney McLeod saw more playing time. Watts’ injury could also mean an extra spot going to one of Indianapolis’ other safeties still on the roster (Will Redmond or Trevor Denbow).
The good news for the Colts is on special teams, the coverage units had an outstanding game versus the Buccaneers despite missing Watts. Tampa Bay averaged only 4.3 yards per punt return and 20.4 yards per kick return against Indianapolis in Week 3 of the preseason.
Watts played four seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs before signing with the Colts. Watts spent a large portion of his rookie season on injured reserve, but he played in 16 games each of the last three seasons. In 2020, he started one game at safety.
In 53 NFL games, Watts has posted 58 combined tackles, including 3 tackles for loss, 3 quarterback hits, 2 pass defenses and 2.0 sacks.
Last year, he played only 45 defensive snaps but lined up for 286 snaps on special teams. Watts was on the field for more than three-quarters of Kansas City’s special teams snaps over the last two years.
Injuries Piling up for Colts
Injuries are part of the NFL beast. They are unavoidable. But the final week of training camp was particularly bad for the Colts on the injury front.
Also on August 24, defensive end Kwity Paye left practice with a knee injury. Fortunately, Paye’s injury wasn’t deemed to be serious, and Reich explained that he expects the defensive end to be ready for Week 1.
But Paye did not return to practice or play in the preseason finale.
Furthermore, on August 17, the Colts lost rookie tight end Drew Ogletree to a season-ending knee injury. An MRI the day he sustained the injury revealed Ogletree tore his right ACL.
While Watts, Sanchez and Ogletree weren’t projected to be offensive or defensive starters, they were expected to be valuable contributors.
First, it was next man up at tight end and punter for Indianapolis. Now, the Colts will do the same at safety.