After having offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, the certainty of Andrew Luck’s availability for the Indianapolis Colts this season remains up in the air. While remaining on schedule to participate in training camp come late July, the battle to be Luck’s backup will be much more important this time around.
When healthy, there is no player more important to the Colts than Luck. No matter what head coach Chuck Pagano might say about the importance of every player to the team’s success, there is no team success without his starting quarterback.
Last season, Luck threw for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns, while completing 63.5% of his passes, a career high. Following a string of injuries forcing him to miss time over the past two seasons, Luck has developed the moniker of “injury-riddled” and “fragile”. Whether there is any truth to this titles, Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris and Phillip Walker come into training camp with more eyes on them than they might be used to.
Tolzien was the team’s backup quarterback last season. After spending two years behind Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers, Tolzien’s experience, combined with having already worked with Luck in the past, assured him his place behind Luck on the depth chart. Following a concussion suffered a week prior against the Tennessee Titans, Luck was forced to miss the Thanksgiving matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, leaving Tolzien the reigns. Despite a 28-7 loss, Tolzien proved his worth to the Colts, throwing for 205 yards and 1 touchdown, while completing a pass to eight different receivers. With one year remaining on his contract, Tolzien goes into training camp as the favorite to earn the backup services.
Last season, Morris spent the majority of the season on the team’s practice squad, only being elevated to the 53-man roster in November to backup Tolzien against the Steelers. Morris’ performance during the preseason last year opened many eyes. Throwing for 531 yards and 4 touchdowns in four appearances, Morris’ play forced a tough decision on the coaching staff. While ultimately losing out on the opportunity to backup Luck, Morris made a name for himself with the Colts, giving himself another opportunity this season.
Signed after the 2017 draft as an undrafted free agent, Walker is the fourth quarterback who will be competing in training camp this year. Coming from Temple, Walker spent four seasons with the Owls, throwing for 10,273 yards and 24 touchdowns in 47 games, placing him first in school history for passing yards and touchdowns. Walker, like Luck, possesses the ability to scramble and make plays with his feet. In college, Walker carried the ball 342 times, accumulating 763 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. While somewhat undersized at 5-11 and 216 pounds, Walker impressed during team OTA’s, leaving Pagano excited about the quarterback.
“Athletic guy and like I said, he’s got arm talent and he’s smart. He’s picking things up at a high rate,” said Pagano of Walker. “It’ll be interesting once we finish up here in a couple weeks and come back for training camp and then we’ll see those guys with live bullets and see how he does.”
Despite Pagano’s praise, Walker remains a wild card entering training camp. With two quarterbacks ahead of him with backup experience, it would be surprising to see Walker as the No.2 quarterback on the depth chart.
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