Something that every NFL player will tell you is that he is preparing as a starter. In the offseason and even in the season, players on the roster are preparing as if they were starters regardless of what their chances of actually starting are.
In one sense, that’s very important: the player has to be ready at any point to play in case of an injury or some other situation. But in another sense, it’s hard for a guy to truly prepare as a starter if he’s not being treated as the starter.
But this offseason, Scott Tolzien can confidently say that he’s preparing as the starter, because with Andrew Luck still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, Tolzien is likely to be getting the first team reps in offseason practices.
“That I don’t know. We’ll see how it plays out when we start practicing,” Tolzien said this week. “But it is a great opportunity to be out there with the first team offense and getting comfortable with those guys. At the same time, it’s always been my mindset in every offseason to approach it like a starter. I think every guy should do that, from Andrew Luck down to an incoming rookie. I think that’s the best mindset to have and that won’t change.”
Luck likely won’t participate on-the-field in the offseason workouts in the coming weeks as he recovers from the shoulder surgery that he had earlier this year, and it’s still uncertain as to when exactly Luck will be back - so it’s possible that Tolzien could see more first team reps in training camp too, though it all just depends on when Luck returns.
Tolzien will be competing for the Colts’ backup quarterback job this offseason, as he’ll be trying to beat out Stephen Morris and Phillip Walker. Tolzien was the team’s backup last year and was decent in his only start, but he doesn’t seem to be guaranteed the spot again this year. So since he’ll be competing for the chance to back up Luck, those first team reps will likely be especially valuable. It’s no secret that in practices and training camp and preseason sometimes a backup quarterback can be dragged down by some of the lackluster backup talent he’s playing with, and in a similar sense Tolzien getting the chance to have reps with the first teamers could help elevate his performance. Those first team reps will be valuable.
There’s no controversy or competition for the starting quarterback spot, however: that belongs to Andrew Luck as soon as he’s able to get back on the field. He’s the franchise quarterback, and so that means that part of Tolzien’s job as the backup is to help Luck however possible. That’s something that Tolzien is able to do even when Luck isn’t on-the-field practicing.
“Yeah, for sure,” Tolzien said. “It’s the same thing like talking in meetings through reads and stuff. One thing we’re trying to do even now out there is just the timing of certain routes. There are seven-step drops. You have a controlled seven-step drop and you have a quick seven-step drop and just talking through that stuff. Both of us, he’s helping me out with what worked for him last year and likewise. This year, some of the steps are a little bit different with a new receivers coach. I can give him feedback on what we’re doing there. I think the same old there is everybody is just trying to help each other out from Andrew, Stephen [Morris], Phillip [Walker], Coach Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] and everybody.”