How Colts’ Sam Ehlinger is approaching his first career NFL start

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Sam Ehlinger will be making his first career NFL start Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium as the team hosts the Washington Commanders.

Ehlinger was named the starter over veteran Matt Ryan, whose struggles under center helped lead the Colts to making the switch. Ryan handled the benching like a true professional, and now it’s time for the Colts to see what they have in Ehlinger.

It’s an exciting and nervous time for the second-year pro, but he’s approaching this game as if he would any other before this.

“I’m excited. I think, as I’ve told you guys, I’m always preparing to be the starter. Regardless of when that opportunity was going to come, I was going to be ready and do what I could to be prepared,” Ehlinger said Wednesday. “That’s alleviated a lot of the stress. I can’t imagine if I weren’t preparing the way that I was and it was like, ‘Hey, you’re up.’ That’s the thing about this business. Staying on top of it, obviously there’s a lot of excitement for the opportunity and just going to take it one day at a time.”

Ehlinger has yet to attempt a pass in a meaningful NFL game, but he has the support of the veterans around him. Both Ryan and Nick Foles have been there to help the young quarterback prepare for this eventual situation.

“I’ve learned a ton. I’ve told you guys, it’s an education that I can’t pay for and the way to prepare like a pro, obviously Matt (Ryan) has done it for so long. I’ve been able to watch him and see his preparation and obviously, Nick’s (Foles) done it as well. He’s prepared as a backup and he knows what it’s like to have those emotions, to be called up,” Ehlinger said. “So, to have those two guys in my corner, as they’ve been vocally supportive, it’s unbelievable.”

Starting Ehlinger won’t magically make the Colts offense elite. The issues along the offensive line are mainly the reason for the switch. As cerebral as Ryan is, he can only do so much physically when he’s constantly pressured.

That’s why bringing in a mobile quarterback like Ehlinger gives the Colts hope that he can provide a spark on that side of the ball.

“Play the position, take care of the ball but obviously, play my game. I think that there’s an element to where the league’s transitioning to more mobile quarterbacks and I think I am able to offer that. So, just being smart with the football, taking completions, getting the ball in playmakers’ hands,” Ehlinger said. “We have a lot of good players and even in the run game, give the ball to JT (Jonathan Taylor), Nyheim (Hines), Deon (Jackson). Let those guys work. Parris (Campbell) is playing great, Pitt’s (Michael Pittman Jr.) playing great, Alec (Pierce) is playing great. Get the ball in their hands, and let them be the stars.”

The Colts are at a turning point in the season and with the trade deadline coming up next week, it will be interesting to see if the front office makes any moves.

But at the quarterback position, this will be Ehlinger’s offense to run for the remainder of the season.

“I don’t think you know you’re ready. I think you just do everything you can in preparation and then see where it goes from there.”

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Story originally appeared on Colts Wire