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Golden: Indianapolis gives Sam Ehlinger his best chance to play his rookie NFL season

Ehlinger will battle Jacob Eason for the backup job

Cedric Golden
Austin American-Statesman
  • Ehlinger was drafted in the sixth round
  • Carson Wentz is penciled in as the starter but has only played 16 games twice in his five seasons.

Sam Ehlinger just wants the chance to prove himself in the NFL and what better place to do it than with a team whose new starter has a history of injuries?

Former Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, now starting for the Indianapolis Colts, makes full-time money but has largely been a part-time NFL player, having missed 12 starts over his first couple of seasons.

The former No. 2 overall pick will be the Colts' starter in the season opener, but his history doesn't guarantee a wire-to-wire season.

NFL Draft:Indianapolis Colts take Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in sixth round

Unlike his predecessor Philip Rivers, a legendary ironman who retired as the second most durable quarterback in league history with an astounding 240 consecutive starts from 2006-21 — second only to Hall of Famer Brett Favre’s 297 — Wentz has played a full regular season only twice in his first five years, mostly because of injuries. Four potential starts didn’t happen because he was benched at the end of last season in favor of Alabama rookie Jalen Hurts.

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was a sixth-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts, who have turned to often-injured Carson Wentz as their starter. Wentz has played a full regular season only twice in his first five years, mostly because of injuries.

It makes the drafting of Ehlinger in the sixth round an intriguing one because he will be in a nice backup tussle with Jacob Eason — a former fourth round pick who served as the third stringer last season — and Jalen Morton, a former undrafted free agent.

If he wins the backup job, the chances of Sammy playing as a rookie are really good if history means anything. Even though Wentz will be playing behind one of the better offensive lines in the game, his propensity for getting hurt won’t just disappear overnight.

Sam Ehlinger, Ta’Quon Graham, Caden Sterns:A look at Longhorns picked in the NFL Draft

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Eason has the measurables over Ehlinger — he has a bigger arm that will push the ball down the field — but Sam’s 11,436 yards and 94 touchdowns in 46 career games in four seasons dwarfed Eason’s 6,590 yards and 39 touchdowns in 29 games over three seasons.

Who can blame Ehlinger for being excited?

“I  always had a good feeling about the Colts,” Ehlinger told reporters on Sunday. “I always had great conversations with them and knew it was a good landing location for me.”

No one will outwork Ehlinger, though the book on him is he must improve his mechanics and rediscover the deep ball accuracy that just wasn’t there his senior year at Texas. That said, he should be absolutely geeked that he's the most accomplished of the backups there.

Wentz will start but he might not finish, and if we know Ehlinger the way we think we know him, he will be ready if his number is called.

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, left, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones share a light moment during the press conference last Friday to introduce the Cowboys' first-round pick.

Dallas Cowboys land a potential star

The Dallas Cowboys just knew they would land a cornerback in Round 1, but the best-laid plans of high-powered NFL and fantasy league owners often go astray.

We football nerds have all felt the sting of a gut punch when the guy you covet goes one pick ahead of you, so imagine Jerry Jones’ disgust when Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II dropped off the board right before Dallas’ pick.

Micah Parsons was a win for Dallas, though.

Sure, linebackers aren’t going as high in the NFL draft as they did back in the 1980s when players like Lawrence Taylor (No. 2) Carl Banks (2), Cornelius Bennett (2) and Derrick Thomas (4) were top-five picks, but Dallas taking the Penn State playmaker with the 12th pick not only qualifies for a real upgrade at the position but also signals the end of the Leighton Vander Esch era.

LVE is a damn fine player, but he has spent a lot of time in the training room.

Parsons is an every-down player who's sturdy against the run while able to cover running backs and tight ends in the passing game.

Really, Terry?

Terry Bradshaw, nightmare.

The Hall of Fame quarterback has made millions in his post-playing career with his affable, aw-shucks on-camera personality. But sometimes he oversteps his bounds.

The longtime Fox NFL studio analyst ripped into Aaron Rodgers over the weekend after reports surfaced that the Green Bay quarterback was fed up with the organization’s direction. Bradshaw called Rodgers “weak” and said if he was unhappy in the NFL that  he might be better off hosting "Jeopardy!," alluding to Rodgers’ recent successful guest stint.

Rodgers made no secret of his desire to have another weapon at receiver opposite all-pro Davante Adams last season, but the Packers ignored his plea in the receiver-rich 2020 draft with wideouts falling from the sky and instead moved up to take Utah State quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, a move that signaled to some that Rodgers’ days at Lambeau were numbered.

Enter Bradshaw on Monday.

“Shut your mouth and play QB,” he said on WFAN sports radio in New York. “Where does a player have the right to criticize the front office?”

This coming from the guy who disrespectfully blew off the funerals of Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr., Steelers president Dan Rooney and Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll, who stuck with him through a rough start to his career and coached him to four Super Bowl titles.

It just feels strange that Bradshaw would be ripping an all-time great who's simply upset that his organization hasn’t surrounded him with enough talent to appear in more than one Super Bowl while Bradshaw himself had the luxury of playing with nine Hall of Famers.