INDIANAPOLIS--The Indianapolis Colts have a team coronavirus vaccination rate of 75%, which is below the NFL average of 90%.
“Do I think everybody should be vaccinated? Absolutely, I do. I am for the vaccine. (Head Coach) Frank (Reich) is for the vaccine. We have a lot of guys on our team that are for the vaccine and I want to make sure that people understand that around our community, that this is a good thing. Is it 100 percent perfect? No, no it’s not but it’s a good thing,” said Colts General Manager Chris Ballard Wednesday.
Ballard said he could go into the locker room and “raise all kinds of hell” about players not getting vaccinated, but he doesn’t believe in pressuring them to do so.
“We’ll continue to work on the vaccinations. It’s not like we’re done. It’s not like we’re done educating. They know the importance of team,” said Ballard. “We put a lot on the locker room to hold each other accountable.”
Ahead of Week 1, the NFL and NFLPA agreed on a few revisions to the league’s COVID-19 protocols for both vaccinated and unvaccinated players, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
LISTEN: Part of Chris Ballard’s press conference
Testing for fully vaccinated players and staff will take place every week instead of every two weeks.
Two changes are also being made to the masking rules. All staff who interact directly with players in an indoor setting will need to wear masks regardless of whether they’ve been vaccinated. Also, unvaccinated players will no longer have to wear masks in outdoor settings. (The CDC has long said that COVID-19 transmission is far less likely outdoors, especially in uncrowded areas.)
Unvaccinated players will still be at risk of missing time if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, while vaccinated players will not miss any time as long as they test negative.
“But for the guys who have chosen to not get vaccinated, they understand that they are still part of this team. It’s their decision but they are still a part of our team and they have to take care of the team. They have to protect the team. We’ve talked a lot about that. They have to protect the team and being on the field because some of them are really good players, they have to do everything they can to protect the team and them playing helps us win. So they’ve got to follow the protocols to a T,” said Ballard.
The Colts activated quarterback Carson Wentz, center Ryan Kelly and wide receiver Zach Pascal from the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the team announced Thursday. Colts left tackle Eric Fisher is the only one remaining on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
To make room on the roster, the Colts placed quarterback Sam Ehlinger, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and wide receiver Dezmon Patmon on the Injured Reserve list.