WESTFIELD, Ind. — Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger split snaps with the Colts' first-team offense for the first time during Tuesday's training camp practice at Grand Park, and will continue to split those reps going forward, coach Frank Reich said.
This was not the Colts' plan when Carson Wentz underwent a procedure on his foot eight days ago. But Ehlinger forced the issue by consistently stacking good days of practice and impressing coaches with his ability to operate the offense.
"It wasn't anything with Jacob doing anything wrong," Reich said. "This is meritocracy, and Sam's looked good. So we decided to split it up."
Reich was pleased with how both Eason and Ehlinger responded to the change during Tuesday's practice. Eason rifled a 40-yard deep shot to Dezmon Patmon on his first 11-on-11 play with the twos, while Ehlinger continued to display the kind of good accuracy and decision-making that got him the opportunity.
"I was proud of the way both guys responded today, particularly Jacob, right, because he gets the news that hey, all of a sudden you're going to split the reps and he comes out and has a good day," Reich said. "That's a good sign for Jacob."
Reich said Eason will start Sunday's preseason curtain-lifter against the Carolina Panthers, with Ehlinger tagging in some time during the second quarter. The timeline for making a decision on Eason or Ehlinger to be the Colts' Week 1 starter or Week 1 backup — depending on Carson Wentz's availability — will be at some point before the third preseason game against the Detroit Lions, Reich said.
For now, though, Reich and the Colts hope to see continued progress from both Eason and Ehlinger no matter which unit they're practicing with over the next few weeks.
"Sam's really been good, he's been solid every day," Reich said. "And so it's fair, it's right. By switching those, I don't feel like we're losing that much with Jacob getting reps with the two's, it's more about giving Sam an opportunity."