The Colts hope to have Carson Wentz back from the COVID-19 reserve list in time to start against the Raiders on Sunday, but they are preparing rookie Sam Ehlinger to make his first NFL start in the event that Wentz can’t get clearance.
Head coach Frank Reich may have given old friend Philip Rivers a buzz this week, but he expressed confidence in Ehlinger and said the sixth-round pick has “come up big in moments like this time after time again” on his way to the NFL. Reich acknowledges that Ehlinger “doesn’t have as big of an arm as Carson,” but the rookie believes he has a firm grasp of what will be asked of him if he is on the field this weekend.
Ehlinger said there are “worse positions” to step into than an offense that has players like Quenton Nelson, Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman, and T.Y. Hilton on hand and that having nearly a full season under his belt leaves him equipped to lead the unit.
“In training camp, I was kind of just trying to stay afloat: figure out the plays, figure out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing on each play,” Ehlinger said, via Nate Atkins of the Indianapolis Star. “Now that I’m comfortable in the offense, I’ve been around, I see how a practice schedule flows, I’m really able to understand the offense but also be what a quarterback is supposed to be.”
Wentz won’t be back with the team before the weekend, so Ehlinger will get a full week of practice to prepare for his potential NFL debut. If he does start and leads the Colts to a win, it will book them a trip to the playoffs that he’ll likely go back to watching from the sideline.