After seeing his first game action in two years, 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason shined in his preseason debut vs. the Carolina Panthers. Not only did Eason do well, but so did the Colts’ sixth-round pick Sam Ehlinger.
However, the script started to flip during training camp practices this week at Grand Park in Westfield. Eason’s confidence is starting to soar after his fantastic stint against Carolina. Throughout the week, Eason was rifling passes all over the field at magnificent efficiency. It made many Colts beat writers believe that Eason should receive the starting reps against the Minnesota Vikings, not Ehlinger.
The former Texas Longhorns quarterback did nothing to dispel those claims as he missed a practice due to illness, plus struggled mightily against pressure in a few different situations. Once Ehlinger returned to the field, Eason never had a bad throwing day. Although Ehlinger will receive the starting action for the Colts, one has to wonder how long the leash could be.
If Eason once again looks like an NFL starting quarterback thanks to his howitzer for an arm, plus an improved overall mental acumen for the position, it’s fair to say that he’s won the battle over Ehlinger.
Ehlinger has all the pressure on his shoulders in Minnesota. Getting run with the starters, the mobile QB gets to prove why his strong start to camp was legitimate. Many of the Colts’ starters will play against the Vikings, treating this week as their dress rehearsal before the regular season opener next month. This is the perfect opportunity for Ehlinger to regain some ground that was lost during practice this week to Eason.
From a physical attribute standpoint, Ehlinger comes nowhere close to Eason. However, his mobility and quick rhythm throwing can help Indianapolis in a pinch when needed. This will be where Colts head coach Frank Reich truly finds out if Ehlinger can be the team’s week one starter in case Carson Wentz can’t go due to his foot injury.
Let’s say Ehlinger looks the part against the Vikings’ starting defense. What should Indianapolis do in that scenario? It not only makes the QB battle drag out another week or two, but it also makes the decision even harder for Reich and Co for a potential season opening starter.
Either way, both Eason and Ehlinger are making the 53-man roster. The biggest storyline revolving around tonight’s action in Minnesota does revolve around these young quarterbacks.
Will Ehlinger make up ground on Eason, or will the strong-armed signal-caller from Washington put the nail in the coffin for this competition? It’s going to be the biggest area to watch against the Vikings, and it might help decide who ends up winning the job in a few weeks.