INDIANAPOLIS — It's been well-established that Scott Tolzien will be the man under center to start Sunday's 2017 preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.
How much he plays — as well as the rest of the starters on offense — is still up in the air. But one thing's for certain: whether it's for one series, a quarter, a half or even the entire game, Tolzien wants to have accomplished a couple clear goals by the time backups Stephen Morris and Phillip Walker step onto the field.
"I think just a clean operation and to compete," Tolzien said on Friday. "It's our first chance to go out there without coaches behind us. To run a clean operation with the 11 guys on the field, move the ball and just compete. It's the first chance against another team in a game setting with full pads. Looking forward to it."
Tolzien, a seventh-year Wisconsin product who spent the first five years of his career as a backup with the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, would play in three total games last year, his first season in Indy, and had the opportunity to get one start — just the third of his career — on Thanksgiving Night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While the Colts would fall, 28-7, in that game, head coach Chuck Pagano commended the toughness of Tolzien, who took several hits that night but continued to make plays and run the offense. In all, he completed 22-of-36 passes for 205 yards with a touchdown to two interceptions.
Several other factors — mainly a 21-7 deficit midway through the second quarter, as well as being stopped at the one-yard line on two separate occasions — played into the final outcome, but Pagano said he thought Tolzien "gave us a chance" to win throughout the night.
"He's one tough son of a gun," Pagano said. "He hung in there and hung in there and made some really tough throws and took some shots along the way. I am very proud of that kid."
Since that time, Tolzien has continued to work on improving his play.
"I do like the command he has taken with the offense and I think the guys have really gained a lot of confidence in him as he has gone," Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. "He works extremely hard at his craft and preparing himself mentally, and obviously physically, but especially mentally, and commanding the huddle and those types of things."
Tolzien on Friday gave an honest assessment of his training camp performance thus far, rating it as "hold and cold." But if things go his way on Sunday, Tolzien's play will trend more towards the former and away from the latter.
"There have been good plays and bad plays," Tolzien said. "Just trying to watch the film and minimize the mistakes and capitalize on the things that you have learned in the meeting room. I know that's the bland answer, but that's true. There has been some good and some bad and you're always looking to improve."
A behind the scenes look at Tolzien's 2016 photo shoot in the #ColtsPhotoGarage
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