Colts: Sam Ehlinger injury update ends battle for backup QB job
By Jerry Trotta
The battle for the Indianapolis Colts‘ backup quarterback job quickly morphed into one of the most intriguing training camp storylines in the NFL.
While Jacob Eason was widely said to have the upper hand after his strong performance in the Colts’ second preseason game, rookie Sam Ehlinger refused to give an inch in practice.
Ehlinger got the start in Friday’s preseason finale against the Lions and the moment didn’t prove too big for the young quarterback, as he delivered arguably the highlight of the preseason when he miraculously avoided a sack and connected with Dezmon Patmon for a 60-yard gain through the air in the second quarter.
The only problem? Ehlinger suffered an apparent injury on the play and was removed from the game late in the first half.
Frank Reich told reporters after the game that the injury “didn’t look good”and the final verdict would seem to confirm that.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the fifth-round rookie suffered a knee sprain and will be sidelined for 5-6 weeks. In other words, Eason will be the Colts’ de facto backup QB and potential starter if Wentz is sidelined for Week 1.
Colts QB Sam Ehlinger suffered a knee sprain and is out indefinitely.
The silver lining here is that Ehlinger won’t require surgery, so barring any setbacks he should make it back within the projected timetable.
This is just such an unfortunate blow for Ehlinger. Though Eason had an extra year to learn the playbook and has a distinct physical advantage over Ehlinger (in terms of size and sheer arm strength), the Texas product turned a lot of heads by how quick he grasped the playbook, his playmaking ability, and toughness.
Getting beyond the sentimental aspect of this news, however, Ehlinger’s injury opens up a lot of questions about the Colts’ roster. Will they roll with Brett Hundley as their third QB, or just keep Wentz and Eason on the 53-man?
If we had to guess, we’d say Ehlinger is placed on injured reserve (likely short-term), which would open up an extra roster spot. If that happens, the Colts could add an extra defensive linemen, cornerback, safety or linebacker.
In any event, this injury doesn’t really change much for the Colts as far as the bigger picture is concerned. Eason was likely going to win the backup job anyway, and Wentz is expected to be named the Week 1 starter.
Let’s just hope Ehlinger gets through his rehab without any setbacks and is back on the field pushing Eason in practice. After all, despite the injury, there’s nothing that says Ehlinger can’t reclaim the backup job when he returns.