No Phone Call Means Good News For Stephen Morris

Intro: Stephen Morris played well enough in the preseason to earn a final spot on the Colts’ 53-man roster, but didn’t know if he’d make it or not. How did he learn of the news that he, indeed, made the team?

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INDIANAPOLIS —Needing to clear his head, Stephen Morris headed to the mall on Saturday.

He was hoping that he wouldn't receive a particular phone call by 4 p.m.

Turns out, his phone never rang.

The lack of a phone call — and later confirmation from his agency — meant that Morris had officially earned a spot on the Indianapolis Colts' initial 53-man roster, giving the team three quarterbacks heading into Week 1 of the 2016 regular season.

"(I) just tried to relax and get my mind off a couple things, and let the chips really fall wherever they fall, and just let go from there in terms of letting whatever happens, happens," Morris said Monday. "And I didn't get a call; my agents called me and said we were on the team, and we were happy."

Morris really made the decision tough for the Colts by the way he showed improvement throughout the offseason, and then carried those lessons over into the regular season.

In four preseason games, Morris completed 39-of-61 passes (64 percent) with four touchdowns to just one interception. His final effort in the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals produced a 20-of-30 passing day with 217 yards, and he led the offense on a game-winning drive that was highlighted by a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tevaun Smith.

But the Colts haven't been a franchise known for keeping three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster in recent years, and many outsiders believed that even though Morris played well enough to potentially earn a spot, the team would, by default, have to instead go with a player at a position of need due to various injuries.

Head coach Chuck Pagano said Morris was the best overall football player, however, which outweighed any other factors.

"I think everybody saw what he was able to do in the preseason," Pagano said this week. "ou look at the offseason and you look at how he came back and you look at him through training camp, he has gotten so much better. He is a talented player and we just felt like he was deserving of a 53-man roster spot."

The Colts last kept three quarterbacks on the active roster in the 2012 season. And although Morris has practice squad eligibility left, the team didn't want to risk waiving him on Saturday to see some other team get the opportunity to snatch him up.

"You talk about all of those things," Pagano said, "but (Morris) did enough to where based on our situation, even as it is, we felt like we didn't want to lose a good football player."

For Morris, the name of the game doesn't change now that the regular season is here. He says he will prepare each and every week as if he's the starter, and be as much help to his fellow quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Scott Tolzien, as well as the rest of the team, as he can.

"Mentally, just staying in it," Morris said of what he sets to accomplish each day, despite not getting many reps. " Listening to all the coaching points, writing good notes and talking with Andrew and Scotty. And everybody in that room is just staying connected and worrying about what's going in today and just staying focused in that aspect of the game."

Morris said he'd be doing his team a disservice if he didn't prepare like a starter, which should be the mindset of each and every player on the 53-man roster.

"And I think that's the role of any backup — not just second or third string — it's the role for any backup, (offensive) side of the ball, or defensive side of the ball," he said. "Guys are preparing like they're starters, and, really, when you're saying you're one play away, that's really true in our case, especially, at quarterback."

Individually, there are several areas on which Morris says he can work to get even better if or when his opportunity does arise.

"There's always so much room for improvement," he said. "One thing is just being more consistent, just getting the ball out of your hands and making the right decisions; you know, not forcing things. Making the right checks, you know? Being calm under pressure. I think all those things really define the quarterback."

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