When former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was selected by the Indianapolis Colts back in April, no one thought he'd see quality playing time in his first season. How many sixth-round picks ever do?
Gardner Minshew and Tom Brady? Name another.
The offseason acquisition of former Philadelphia Eagles starter Carson Wentz made it clear what the organization's direction was for the 2021 season.
Yet, the physicality that is the sport of football tends to change these plans every year for most NFL teams. This was the case for the Colts at last week's practice, as Wentz suffered a foot injury, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Original speculation made it seem like Wentz's injury wasn't too concerning, but now the Colts' biggest fears have been confirmed. According to head coach Frank Reich, Went will undergo foot surgery and is expected to miss five to 12 weeks.
In the blink of an eye, Ehlinger is now in a position to possibly see action under center after starting training camp as the third passer listed on the depth chart.
Second-year QB Jacob Eason is now currently listed as the starter after Wentz's injury, as he took first-team reps during Friday's practice. The former Georgia transfer and Washington Huskies starter didn't play a single snap during his rookie year but spent a lot of quality time learning the system and playbook for Reich.
The Colts also signed six-year backup Brett Hundley. He's played with the Packers, Cardinals, and Seahawks after being a fifth-round pick by Green Bay out of UCLA in 2015. He'll look to compete for the starting job as well.
Eason and Hundley have the experience advantage over Ehlinger, who is still adapting to NFL life. However, there are still three preseason games this August that will give Indy coaches a chance to see what Ehlinger has to offer in a game-like scenario.
After all, he's apparently already been making big plays in practice as recently as Friday.
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The upcoming preseason will give coaches a chance to see the unique aspect Ehlinger brings to the QB position that Eason severely lacks: the ability to run the football.
Known as more of a pocket-passer during his three years in college, Eason rushed 82 times for negative 182 yards and two touchdowns. Most of the negative yardage came from sacks outside the pocket or tackles for loss behind the line of scrimmage.
Longhorn fans are quite familiar with Ehlinger's bruising running ability that he put on full display in his four years at Texas. In 46 career games, the Austin native rushed 554 times for 1,903 yards and 33 touchdowns.
It's hard to believe Ehlinger put up such high-quality numbers on the ground while also finishing his Texas career second in total passing yards (11,436), passing touchdowns (94), and single-season passing yards (3,663.) He's proven he can hurt the defense in a variety of ways.
With the timetable for Wentz's return ranging around approximately 5-12 weeks, the duties for the game's most prominent position are now firmly on the shoulders of either Eason or Ehlinger. Though Eason already has one year of experience, the battle between the two could be neck and neck.
Time will tell who gets the start when the Colts kickoff their season Sept. 12 at home against Seattle.
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