Quarterback Curtis Painter Steps into Back-Up Role With Sorgi Out
INDIANAPOLIS – With the news of veteran quarterback Jim Sorgi landing on Injured Reserve comes an opportunity for the player behind him on the depth chart.
That player is rookie quarterback Curtis Painter, who steps into the No. 2 quarterback spot on the depth chart with the loss of Sorgi for the rest of the season.
"Jim just wasn't quite making the kind of progress we like to see," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell. "We thought the best thing for him would be to take some time to where he can dedicate himself to getting that (shoulder) rehabbed and straightened away."
Sorgi, who appeared in one game this season, had been the team's inactive/third-string quarterback since Week 9 while recovering from a shoulder ailment. In six seasons with the Colts, Sorgi has appeared in 16 games and completed 99 of 156 passes for 929 yards with six touchdowns, one interception and an 89.9 passer rating.
In place of Sorgi, who has been the Colts' backup quarterback since 2004, steps Painter, the team's sixth-round draft choice last April. Although Painter has yet to attempt a regular-season pass, the rookie played extensively throughout the preseason schedule and received a significant amount of reps during training camp.
"He showed he does have a pretty good grasp of what we are doing," Caldwell said. "He's still in that learning stage, obviously, but he has been able to make some progress and I think he's learned a lot since (camp). We think he's certainly in the right spot."
Painter, a Purdue alumnus, said Sorgi's injury does not change much for him outside of the fact that he is "one snap away (from playing) instead of two."
"Every week I've tried to prepare like I had the possibility of going in," Painter said. "I'm going to keep that same kind of focus and just going to continue with that."
The rookie said that level of focus and preparation week-in and week-out is a big reason why he feels he is ready to play when called upon.
"Each week I try and take that mentality that I need to be ready," he said. "Just going in every week and trying to feel as comfortable in the offense as I can."
With the opportunity to clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs this Sunday against Denver, Painter is aware he could get some playing time down the stretch, an opportunity he is looking forward to.
"It will be exciting," he said. "Provided we do all the scenarios we need to, it will be fun to get some experience out there."
One advantage the young quarterback does have is learning from a three-time MVP, Peyton Manning, on a daily basis.
"You just kind of look at how he does things," Painter said. "That's a pretty darn good example to follow. I just try and do those things that he does and handle the offense like he does. He's the best at it and a great example to follow."
Since camp, Painter said he has learned more about the Colts' offense week-by-week.
He admits he still has a ways to go, but said he is much further along than at the start of the preseason and is looking to build off that knowledge base.
"He's done a good job of taking the offense and slowly becoming comfortable with it," tight end Dallas Clark said. "It's a tough offense to learn as a player, and twice as hard for a quarterback, but he's done a good job of learning something every day."
With the placement of Sorgi on IR, the Colts signed third-year veteran offensive tackle Michael Toudouze, the club announced Wednesday.
Toudouze originally was a 2006 fifth-round pick out of TCU by the Colts and spent time between the practice squad and active roster during three years with the club.
"He's been in the system for quite some time and he understands it," Caldwell said. "So it's good to have him back."
The club also made two moves on its practice squad, signing quarterback Drew Willy and waiving quarterback Shane Boyd. Willy, a rookie out of Buffalo, originally signed as a free agent with Baltimore.