The Indianapolis Colts apparently can’t have nice things. Right after a big win over the Tennessee Titans, with the Houston Texans’ subsequent loss opening the AFC South door for them, the Colts find out they won’t have Andrew Luck Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Luck was entered into the concussion protocol after the Week 11 game, and the quick turnaround prevented him from practice this week. The Colts will turn to backup Scott Tolzien as their starter, and they re-signed Stephen Morris to the roster, releasing receiver Devin Street to clear space for him.
That’s not good. Luck signed a six-year, $144 million contract this season and has played well, even amid all the team’s flaws. The Colts’ top two quarterbacks now for Thursday’s game have two NFL starts between them, both by Tolzien. In fact, Morris has never thrown a regular-season pass or played in a game in his brief cups of NFL coffee the past few seasons.
Of course, that’s better than the Colts’ emergency option, who is not even a real quarterback.
#Colts actual QB depth chart for Thursday.
1. Scott Tolzien
2. Stephen Morris
3. Pat McAfee
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) November 23, 2016
Yes, that would be punter Pat McAfee, although unlike Morris he actually has attempted a pass in a real game before (an incompletion in a 42-7 blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 15 of the 2014 season).
But clearly, the story here is Tolzien, who started two games in 2013 for the Green Bay Packers when Aaron Rodgers went down — one win, one loss — for a team that had to scratch and claw its way to an 8-7-1 record and an NFC North title. In those two games, plus one other relief appearance that season, he completed 55-of-90 passes (61.1 percent) for 717 yards with one TD, five interceptions and five sacks.
Tolzien, 29, who signed this offseason to be Luck’s backup, hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since. He was solid in the preseason, though, and gives the Colts a better chance than Morris (or, ha, McAfee) would.
The Steelers collected five sacks of the Cleveland Browns last week but have been inconsistent rushing the passer this season on the whole and have allowed the seventh-most pass yards of any team this season. If Tolzien can somehow can lead the 5-5 Colts to what now would be an upset win on Thanksgiving, it would be a huge lift to a team that suddenly needs a bit of a prayer.
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