INDIANAPOLIS — A battle that began with two young quarterbacks has ended with a victory for the veteran everybody overlooked in training camp.
The Colts plan to promote Brett Hundley to the 53-man roster at some point this weekend, a move that settles any debate about the identity of the team’s top backup for the foreseeable future.
Hundley spent the first four games on the team’s practice squad, but Indianapolis can no longer make Hundley a game-day callup to the active roster after exhausting the two promotions Hundley is allowed.
“Brett will be the backup,” Colts head coach Frank Reich said. “There has to be a corresponding move. We’re working on that.”
Indianapolis would not be adding Hundley to the 53-man roster if the Colts didn’t plan to make him Wentz’s top backup long-term. The Colts will have to release a player in order to make room for Hundley.
“We understand that this move has a cost,” Reich said. “We have confidence in Brett. We still have confidence in the other two guys. It’s still an ongoing competition, it’s the NFL, everybody knows that, but we’re happy with Brett’s progress.”
Elevating Hundley to the backup job creates another roster problem for the Colts.
NFL teams rarely carry four quarterbacks on the active roster, but Indianapolis finds itself facing that possibility if it wants to ensure it will be able to keep second-year quarterback Jacob Eason and sixth-round rookie Sam Ehlinger.
Colts OL coach Chris Strausser: ‘I just have to coach better’
Injury report:Colts might finally be starting to get healthier
Eason and Ehlinger spent training camp competing for the right to be Wentz’s backup. At the time, Hundley was an afterthought, but the Colts have elevated Hundley because of the experience he brings to the role, leaving the two young quarterbacks in limbo.
Indianapolis likely would prefer to keep developing both Eason and Ehlinger. The Colts invested a fourth-round pick in Eason in 2020 and spent a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 on Ehlinger. Reich continues to say positive things about the development of both players, even though Eason lost the backup job after he threw a back-breaking interception in relief of Wentz against the Rams.
The Colts have three weeks to decide if they plan to bring Ehlinger back off of injured reserve this season. Ehlinger sprained his knee in the preseason finale, spent the first three weeks of the season on injured reserve and was designated to return from the reserve list last week. Once a team designates a player to return, the player can practice for 21 days before the team must make a decision on bringing him back from injured reserve.
If the Colts don’t bring Ehlinger back, he’d spend the rest of the season on injured reserve.
From what Reich has said, it sounds like the rookie is healthy.
“This week, running (Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s) scout teams, the three quarterbacks kind of split that up,” Reich said. “He looked good. Moved around very well, simulating Lamar at times.”
The Colts have some decisions to make at the game’s most important position.