Colts’ notebook: Wentz, Nelson looking on; splitting reps at QB

Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason runs a drill during practice at the NFL team’s football training camp in Westfield, Ind., Saturday, July 31, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

WESTFIELD – The injury list isn’t doing the Indianapolis Colts any favors, but time remains on their side.

As they resumed training camp work Tuesday morning at Grand Park Sports Campus, the list of unavailable players was long. It included right tackle Braden Smith (foot/maintenance), center Ryan Kelly (elbow), defensive tackle DeForest Buckner (foot), tight end Mo Alie-Cox (knee) and safety Julian Blackmon (knee).

But All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard practiced for the first time after undergoing offseason ankle surgery and two days after signing a five-year, $99.25 million extension.

And perhaps most encouraging, quarterback Carson Wentz and All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson looked on as practice unfolded. Each had surgery last week to address foot injuries, and both moved around without a noticeable limp.

The initial timeline for a return from the surgeries was 5-12 weeks, although the Colts are hopeful the returns of Wentz and Nelson are closer to the front end.

The Colts open the regular season Sept. 12 against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Very encouraging,’’ coach Frank Reich said. “Of course I joked with Carson. Got to 7-on-7 and I said, ‘Let’s go, you’re up.’

“We’re eight days out (from surgery) with Carson, seven for Q. We said after two weeks that’s kind of when you start to get a feel where you’re going to be. Obviously we think they’re both doing very well. Good to have them back out there today and mentally engaged.’’

Splitting the reps

For the first time in camp, Reich divvied up the reps with the starting offense between Jacob Eason and rookie Sam Ehlinger.

“It wasn’t Jacob doing anything wrong,’’ Reich said. “This is a meritocracy and Sam’s looked good and we decided to split it up.

“They both looked sharp today.’’

In 11-on-11 work, Eason was 9-for-10 and one sack while Ehlinger finished 5-of-11 with two sacks.

Eason and Ehlinger will continue to split reps this week, including Thursday and Friday when the Colts have joint workouts with the Carolina Panthers. Eason, though, is expected to start in Sunday’s preseason game against the Panthers at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Bringing the juice

Reich noticed an upbeat tempo at practice Tuesday.

“You could feel the energy out there,’’ he said. “Of course, having 5-3 out there doesn’t hurt matters. He has a way of bringing the juice to practice. Good to have him back out there.’’

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