As a rookie, Jacob Eason had to focus on a lot of things that didn't involve throwing a football.
The circumstances of 2020 - canceled spring practices, a shortened training camp and no preseason games - dealt him a difficult challenge to grow in his first year in the NFL. But Marcus Brady, the Colts' quarterbacks coach last year and now the team's offensive coordinator, said Eason "took advantage of what he was able to this past season."
That meant taking good, detailed notes in meetings. Or picking the brains of Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett, players Eason said were mentors to him. Or working after practice with then-quarterbacks coach (and now-offensive coordinator) Marcus Brady. Or just taking mental rep after mental rep while the Colts' starter and backup took live reps during practice.
With Rivers retired and Brissett off to Miami, though, Eason will have a chance to compete with Sam Ehlinger and Jalen Morton to be the Colts' backup quarterback.
And so far, Eason has felt like he's already made some progress now that he's able to take live reps during practice this month.
"Look, I'm not saying I'm perfect, I've got a ton of room for improvement. But I feel like last year and going into this offseason, I've taken strides and going out there in OTAs now I have a better understanding this year I have last year," Eason said. "Granted, it is Year 2 versus Year 1 so it should be that way, but I feel a lot more comfortable going into this preseason."
So now it's time for Eason, who didn't appear in a game as a rookie, to start applying all those mental lessons he learned in 2020 to the field in 2021.
"I was learning the mental last year but I wasn't getting a lot of the reps," Eason said. "I think with, yes, understanding the mental and now getting the reps, I think those two together will help me be able to show these coaches and these guys some things that I can do. And obviously, ton of room for improvement, always continuing to grow and look to get better."
Eason will get an opportunity to play in a Colts uniform for the first time this summer in three preseason games that'll be important to determining who Carson Wentz's backup will be. Those games, as well as training camp practices, will be critical opportunities for Eason to show the upside and potential that led the Colts to pick him in the fourth round a year ago.
"We really get to see him shine now and see what he's capable of," wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who's close with Eason, said. "… You see a guy that is smart, talented, he just has everything that it takes."
For now, though, Eason is relishing the opportunity to take practice reps with his teammates and build a foundation for training camp.
"It's great having an idea of the offense, having a firm grasp of it going into camp is so much different in Year 2 versus Year 1," Eason said. "And obviously getting the reps and going out there and playing football again, taking snaps under center, going through progressions it's been a blast so far during OTAs."
The Indianapolis Colts were back on the field to begin Week 2 of OTAs.