Josh Downs has quickly become one of the main bright spots of the 2023 NFL season for the Indianapolis Colts. After being selected with the No. 79 overall pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, many labeled the pick as a major steal. That has turned out to be 100 percent the case for Indianapolis.
Through the first eight games of his NFL career, Downs has already flashed signs of potential stardom. He has caught 40 passes for 473 yards and two touchdowns. Downs has already become a favorite target for both Anthony Richardson, before his season-ending shoulder injury, and now Gardner Minshew.
Unfortunately for Downs and the Colts, his status for their Week 9 matchup against the Carolina Panthers is in doubt.
According to NFL reporter Ari Meirov on Twitter, Downs is questionable to play this week due to a knee injury.
#Colts WR Josh Downs has a knee injury and is questionable for Sunday's game vs. the Panthers.
Downs has played as one of the top rookies in the NFL with 40 catches for 473 yards and 2 TDs on the season. pic.twitter.com/QwifJRymci
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 3, 2023
What’s Next For The Colts If Josh Downs Can’t Play?
Through the first eight games for the Colts this season, one of their biggest areas of weakness has been at the wide receiver position. Downs has been arguably their best and most consistent target. That doesn’t bode well for them in Week 9 if he is unable to give it a go.
Should he have to sit out against the Panthers, the Colts would be left with Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Isaiah McKenzie, and Juwann Winfree as their wide receivers. They would likely elevate a player to the active roster, but those options outside of Pittman don’t strike any fear in an opposing defense.
Gardner Minshew will have his work cut out for him if Downs can’t play. The Colts are definitely the better team on paper, but missing key players against a young team hungry for a win can be a dangerous recipe.
One major positive for the Colts, however, has been the emergence of their rushing game. Jonathan Taylor is back and looking like his old self, while Zack Moss has cemented himself as a huge part of the offense as well. If Indianapolis is struggling to move the football through the air, the ground game should be able to carry a much heavier load.
Shane Steichen and company can only wait to see what Downs’ status is at game time. Hopefully, he’ll be able to get out on the field, but if he can’t, the Colts will have to alter their game plan a bit.
Make sure to tune in to see the Colts face off against the Panthers in Carolina at 4:05 p.m. EST on CBS.