Colts’ Frank Reich: Jacob Eason ‘has earned’ backup QB spot

Indianapolis Colts

INDIANAPOLIS – With Carson Wentz on track to start the Indianapolis Colts’ Sept. 12 opener against the Seattle Seahawks, Jacob Eason has settled into the backup’s role.

“I think Jacob has earned that spot,’’ Frank Reich said Sunday afternoon. “I think he’s done a nice job. Really happy with his progress.’’

That decision might already have been made prior to rookie Sam Ehlinger spraining the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Friday night in the preseason finale at Detroit. Surgery won’t be necessary, but the sixth-round draft pick is expected to miss 4-5 weeks.

Eason and Ehlinger shared reps with the starting offense shortly after Wentz underwent foot surgery Aug. 2. Each showed flashes, but Eason appeared to offer more potential to the passing game.

In the three preseason games, he completed 41-of-62 passes (66.1%) for 389 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and an 83.3 passer rating.

“I think his bright spots have really been throwing the ball down the field, making some nice chunk plays down the field,’’ Reich said. “I think the other bright spot for Jacob was that it wasn’t too big for him, that he got in there and looked comfortable, looked like he belonged.

“We expected that, but you never know until you actually get in there and I think he’s earned the trust and respect of the team.’’

Eason was taken in round 4 of the 2020 draft, but the COVID-19 pandemic erased offseason work and eliminated the preseason schedule. His development was further impeded while working behind Philip Rivers and backup Jacoby Brissett.

That development was accelerated when Wentz was sidelined early in training camp.

“It was a series of unfortunate events what happened there with Carson,’’ Eason said after the Lions game. “You never want that to be the case, but in terms of my growth and development process for me, everything sped up. I got thrown in there. It was great for me just getting thrown in there.

“I’m happy with the camp I had and there’s still time for development and growth.’’

Eason absorbed as much as possible while working with Brissett. The overriding theme: be ready.

“Jacoby prepared as if he was the guy last year,’’ Eason said. “Coach is always preaching, talking about how if you are a backup, you never know when your number is going to be called. At any given moment, the opportunity can present itself.

“You have to be ready to go. You can have the whole team looking at you to hold up your end of the deal. If that is the case, you just have to prepare like, ‘I am the guy and if that happens, I’m ready to go.’ That’s one of the things he taught me last year: stay engaged.’’

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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