Colts: Sam Ehlinger getting starting reps a sign of shifting QB battle?
By Adam Weinrib
Throughout Colts camp, and especially since Carson Wentz’s season-altering injury, it’s been very clear that 2021 sixth-rounder Sam Ehlinger has been closely watched by team brass and the coaching staff.
With only a few days to go before the team’s first preseason action, is a tide turning in the battle between presumptive backups that just might spill over into a Week 1 start?
Just a few days ago, we speculated that Ehlinger’s rise might result in an unexpected flip, despite Eason’s arm talent and clear head start.
On Tuesday, everything came to a head.
The Colts stepped out onto the practice field with the Longhorn gunslinger as their QB1, doling out starting reps to a player they likely did not expect to thrust into the fire anywhere near this quickly.
Is Jacob Eason the Colts QB1 after Tuesday’s practice?
According to Adam Schefter, practice closed with the same picture: Ehlinger in front with the starters, Eason getting his reps in elsewhere.
We’ll wait until Sunday’s game action before we render our judgment, but all signs point to a late-round 2021 pick starting Week 1 for a team that entered camp as one of the AFC’s presumptive top seeds…without Quenton Nelson to protect him.
On the surface, that worries you. But the Colts are trusting the eye test, and what Ehlinger lacks in velocity, he seems to make up for in pocket presence. At the very least, he’s earned some run with the starting unit so Frank Reich, Marcus Brady and Co. can further flesh out the picture.
Colts Odds for Sunday’s Week 1 Preseason Opener
According to Frank Reich, Eason will still get the start on Sunday in the preseason opener, but Ehlinger will continue to split reps in the interim; the Colts remain -130 favorites on the moneyline for that contest, per WynnBET.
It wasn’t hard to find praise for Eason on Tuesday, too. Perhaps the added pressure of seemingly losing ground helped motivate him to cultivate a connection, but he apparently had an easier time finding TY Hilton than ever before during this particular session.
Neither Ehlinger nor Eason will be expected to fill Wentz’s shoes perfectly, but nobody hates an underdog story.
And the unheralded Longhorn who once vowed to bring Texas back to the forefront, only to falter after his momentum was halted, grabbing the reins after being given a golden opportunity could be one hell of a narrative.
The beginning of Ehlinger’s Colts career was marred by unspeakable family tragedy, as he was forced to leave the facility shortly after Draft Day following the news that his brother had passed away. The meteoric rise he’s experienced since that dreaded day can only be further cemented with a powerful showing on Sunday.