Sam Ehlinger‘s promising preseason came to a halt Friday night, and the rookie quarterback will miss time due to injury. Ehlinger suffered an ACL sprain and will miss four weeks, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. Although he will not require surgery, a five-to-six-week absence will be expected, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com.
While exams not revealing a full tear represents good news for the Colts, who have seen positive signs from their sixth-round rookie this summer, the team now has less protection in the event Carson Wentz is not ready to play in Week 1. Ehlinger and Jacob Eason were vying for Indianapolis’ backup job; Eason appears set to win that by default.
Ehlinger completed all three of his pass attempts on Friday before exiting the game late in the first half with the knee issue. Eason completed 10 of 14 passes for 74 yards. The Texas product had moved up to split first-team practice reps with Eason during training camp, putting himself in position to be a September stopgap starter in the event Wentz could not go. Now, Ehlinger will be a candidate to begin the season on IR. The Colts could stash Ehlinger there and activate him when he recovers, but they would need to carry him onto their 53-man roster after Tuesday’s cutdown day to do so.
Wentz returned to practice this week and continues to progress toward a Week 1 return from foot surgery, joining Quenton Nelson in that regard. This would allow the Colts to dodge a bullet. They refrained from bringing in a veteran to fill Wentz’s post while he rehabbed, instead entrusting Eason and Ehlinger. Brett Hundley is also on Indy’s roster, but he last started a game in 2017.