WESTFIELD, Ind. — Colts head coach Frank Reich views competition on his team as a "meritocracy." Sam Ehlinger played well over the first week and a half of training camp.
So starting Tuesday, Ehlinger began splitting first-team practice snaps with Jacob Eason.
"Sam's really been good, he's been solid every day," Reich said. "And so it's fair, it's right."
The Colts were drawn to Ehlinger's intangibles, mobility and winning resume over four years in a pressure-packed environment at Texas. All those things have translated to an NFL training camp so far — general manager Chris Ballard noted Ehlinger's "it factor" back in May; Reich made a similar "it factor" observation earlier this month.
But what's gone into translating that "it factor" to success on the practice fields at Grand Park?
"From really high school until now, I've had great coaching with the X's and O's, and just really understanding defenses and understanding offenses," Ehlinger said. "When I come to the line of scrimmage I really try to eliminate as much information as possible. Obviously gather it, but eliminate it as well to make it really simple. I know coach Reich talks about making it simple at the line of scrimmage and so that's what I try to do with the information I have about our offense and the defense."
Ehlinger previously talked about having a plan every time he gets to the line of scrimmage, which shined on his first snap with the first-team offense in 11-on-11 work Tuesday. Ehlinger got to the line, recognized the defense was playing press-man coverage and knew exactly where he was going with the ball: To wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on a stop route.
"It's certainly a lot of information and it takes a different level of processing and understanding intellectually," Ehlinger said. "I think up to this point, my coaches have done a great job of providing information at a great rate for me to learn and really comprehend and soak it in and then move on to the next thing. I would say up to this point it's been very solid."
It's stuff like this that's impressed Ehlinger's coaches in training camp. And his opportunity with the first-team is not based on something Jacob Eason did wrong — it's only about what Ehlinger has done right to this point.
"Sam plays really smart," Reich said. "He's got really good instincts. He's mentally very quick on his feet, accelerates his vision as we say, good at progressions, has a knack, he certainly is athletic and can make plays with his feet."