Jan 1, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Nick Foles (9) is driven off the field after an injury during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Ehlinger named QB1 as Colts fume over celebration

Sam Ehlinger was named the Week 18 starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts in 2022, but that was hardly the main event Monday.

While quarterback Nick Foles (ribs) remains in physical pain and won’t play in the season finale, coach Jeff Saturday is sore at his offensive linemen for not coming to the aid of their fallen signal-caller.

New York Giants rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux celebrated his sack of Foles by doing snow angels right next to a writhing Foles during Sunday’s game, coming in contact with the QB during the display.

Saturday, who was a six-time Pro Bowl center, expressed disappointment on Monday that his linemen didn’t take matters into their own hands. He called Thibodeaux’s celebration “tasteless trash.”

“Disappointed from the O-line perspective and for teammates in general,” Saturday said. “We protect our own.”

As for Foles, Saturday said he’s “really sore … lot of pain” after suffering a rib injury on the hit from Thibodeaux.

While the sack from Foles’ blind side was clean, the Colts took umbrage with the rookie’s celebration while Foles was on the ground in pain.

“Hopefully his teammates will — maybe one day he’ll learn that injuries happen in this league, you never want to happen to the guy that you’re going against,” Colts center Ryan Kelly told reporters after the game. “That’s just horse****.”

Thibodeaux said he didn’t realize Foles was hurt while he was celebrating. A Colts trainer had to step around Thibodeaux and his celebration to tend to Foles.

Ehlinger replaced Foles and threw his first career touchdown in the Colts’ 38-10 loss to the Giants.

Ehlinger, 24, gets the nod for the Colts (4-11-1) against the visiting Houston Texans (2-13-1) and Matt Ryan will be QB2.

Ehlinger lost both of his previous starts against Washington and New England in Weeks 8-9. He has completed 41 of 66 passes for 364 yards this season.

–Field Level Media

Washington Commanders safety Kamren Curl (31) works to bring down Indianapolis Colts quarterback Sam Ehlinger (4) on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, during a game against the Washington Commanders at Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Commanders stun Colts on late Taylor Heinicke TD

Taylor Heinicke’s 1-yard run with 26 seconds left capped a nine-play, 89-yard drive as the Washington Commanders roared back from a late nine-point deficit to stun the host Indianapolis Colts 17-16 on Sunday.

Heinicke, in his second game since replacing injured quarterback Carson Wentz, went 23 of 31 passing for 279 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His 33-yard strike to Terry McLaurin to the Colts’ 1-yard line set the stage for the winning score.

McLaurin racked up 113 yards on six catches, and Antonio Gibson finished with 77 yards from scrimmage, including a 9-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Indianapolis quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who was making his first career start and his season debut, completed 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Jonathan Taylor finished with 16 carries for 76 yards, including a season-best 27-yard burst, and Alec Pierce made three catches for 65 yards for the Colts (3-4-1).

Indianapolis lost two fumbles in the red zone but still built a 16-7 lead with 11:12 left in the game on Nyheim Hines’ 6-yard touchdown run, his first score of the season.

The Commanders (4-4), responded with a 12-play, 82-yard drive before settling for Slye’s 28-yard field goal to pull within 16-10.

The Colts came up a yard short on third-and-5 and had to punt on the next drive, setting up Washington’s last chance. Aside from the red zone turnovers, Indianapolis also had to settle for three field goals from Chase McLaughlin — from 46, 39 and 20 yards.

After the 20-yard kick, which gave the Colts a 9-7 lead, they were able to strike again quickly.

Shaquille Leonard intercepted a pass by Heinicke and returned it 15 yards to the Washington 24-yard line. Two plays later, a defensive pass interference penalty gave Indianapolis the ball on the 6, and Hines scooted around left end for the 16-7 lead.

The Commanders finished with 362 yards to 324 for the Colts.

Colts defensive tackle Tyquan Lewis was carted off the field in the closing minutes with an apparent knee injury.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan (2) leaves the field after losing to the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, in Nashville, Tenn.

Nfl Indianapolis Colts At Tennessee Titans

‘Disappointed’ Matt Ryan ready to accept Colts’ backup role

Matt Ryan is a backup quarterback for the first time in his 15-season NFL career and it isn’t a tag he’s thrilled about.

Ryan met with reporters Wednesday, two days after learning he was being demoted by the Indianapolis Colts, and said he was disappointed but will embrace the role as the understudy to unproven Sam Ehlinger.

Ryan sustained a separated passing shoulder during last Sunday’s 19-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans but the Colts made it clear that it was performance and not the injury that derailed Ryan’s stint as the team’s starting quarterback.

“As a player, as a competitor, you want to be out there, you want to go,” Ryan said. “It’s part of the deal in this league, you got to produce and you gotta go out there and play. Frustrated that we weren’t able to do that in the first seven games. You move forward.

“Life in this league is week to week and production has to be there. Obviously disappointed personally, but here for the team.”

Ryan, 37, was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason and was supposed to end the Indianapolis quarterback carousel that followed Andrew Luck’s stunning retirement shortly before the 2019 season.

Instead, the move has been a colossal mistake as Ryan has thrown nine interceptions to go with three fumbles (losing one), and he has been sacked 24 times. He has passed for 2,008 yards and nine touchdowns.

“Obviously it hasn’t been the level of production we all would’ve wanted,” Ryan said. “I would’ve liked to play a lot better, too. We’re still seven games into it and there’s a long way to go, but I appreciate everybody taking ownership and I’ve tried to do that myself as well.”

Ryan passed for 3,968 yards for the Falcons last season after topping 4,000 in the each of the previous 10 campaigns. He had 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

But the Colts studied Ryan and confidently felt he was the right guy to replace 2021 starter Carson Wentz.

Instead, second-year pro Ehlinger, a sixth-round pick in 2021, will make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Washington Commanders.

“I love Sam,” Ryan said. “He’s been awesome from the minute I got here. I just told him, any way I can help, you let me know. As a player you gotta go out there and cut it loose and go play your game. Everybody’s individual game is different, go play yours and he’ll do a good job for us.

“… My job this week is to help support Sam, get my shoulder right and help him any way that I can.”

Veteran Nick Foles will back up Ehlinger on Sunday.

Ryan ranks seventh in NFL history with 61,743 passing yards and ninth with 376 touchdown passes.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA;  Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Chuba Hubbard (30) runs the ball against the Texas Longhorns during the fourth quarter at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers honor request, tab RB Chuba Hubbard in fourth round

The Carolina Panthers were on the clock during the fourth round of Saturday’s NFL draft when coach Matt Rhule received a text.

It was his wife, Julie, and she had a succinct message: Draft Chuba Hubbard.

Peace at the dinner table was maintained when Rhule and the Panthers followed the instructions and tabbed the Oklahoma State running back with the 126th overall selection.

Rhule broke the news to Hubbard when they chatted on the phone shortly after the pick was announced in Cleveland, where all seven rounds of the draft was held over three days starting with the first round on Thursday night.

“This is true. I got to tell you this, man,” Rhule said to Hubbard in a video released by the Panthers. “About 10 minutes ago, my wife texted me and said ‘please take Chuba Hubbard.’ So she speaks, it happens. We’re excited to have you, man.”

Carolina owner David Tepper got on the phone and verified the text was legitimate while speaking to Hubbard.

The Panthers will be hoping Julie Rhule has an eye for talent and that Hubbard can be a solid backup to star runner Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey had a season for the ages in 2019 but played in just three games due to injuries last season. Now-departed journeyman Mike Davis filled in admirably but his limitations also made it clear Carolina needed to upgrade the position.

Hubbard had a huge season in 2019 when he rushed for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns for Oklahoma State. But things didn’t go as well in the COVID-19 plagued 2020 campaign as he rushed for just 625 yards and five touchdowns in seven games before an ankle injury halted his season.

But Rhule, who once coached at Baylor, hasn’t forgotten that day that mid-October day in 2019 when Hubbard rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

“I couldn’t sit there and watch you run wild on me all those years at Baylor and not take you when I had the chance,” Rhule said.

Hubbard wasn’t the only big name to go in the fourth round. Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 133rd overall pick.

Book stands just 6 feet tall, which is on the small slope of NFL signal callers. But the Saints had a small-size quarterback for the past 15 seasons in legendary Drew Brees, the sure Hall of Famer who retired after last season.

So naturally, another chapter about Book’s height was being written after the player who was 30-5 as a starter in college went to New Orleans.

“That’s just been the story my whole entire life,” Book told reporters of his height after being selected. “I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder. You know, I’m not getting any taller. And Drew Brees has been able to do it — there’s many other quarterbacks, you can go down the list, that have been able to do it.

“We’re different players, but we’re similar in stature. And (Brees) proved to everybody down there and in the world that he could do it. And I want to do the same thing, and I just feel like I fit in that system well. You know, those are big shoes to fill, there’s no doubt about it, but that’s an exciting challenge for me.”

Sam Ehlinger of Texas was the only other quarterback picked in the final four rounds. He went in the sixth round (218th selection) to the Indianapolis Colts.

Ehlinger passed for 11,436 yards and 94 touchdowns for the Longhorns, second in both categories behind Colt McCoy (13,253 yards, 112 touchdowns from 2006-09).

The New York Jets had a unique draft oddity by picking two players named Michael Carter.

The Jets selected Michael Carter, a running back from North Carolina, in the fourth round, and then selected cornerback Michael Carter II of Duke in the fifth round.

The Carters certainly are highly familiar with each other. They played against each other in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The running back Carter finished his North Carolina career in fourth place on the school’s all-time rushing list with 3,404 career yards after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

“We were really excited about Michael Carter, just his elusiveness and his explosive playmaking ability,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said of the back.

New York coach Robert Saleh was just as excited about the defensive back Carter, who can play both cornerback and safety.

“He’s one of those guys with great versatility.” Saleh said. “Tremendous speed. He’s very sticky in coverage and he’s tremendous mentally in terms of absorbing information and play multiple spots.

The final selection of the 259-player draft, known as Mr. Irrelevant, was Houston linebacker Grant Stuard.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2020; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) keeps the ball for yards and runs past Iowa State Cyclones defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike (58) in the fourth quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Texas QB Ehlinger declares for NFL draft

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger announced Sunday that his college career is over and he will enter the NFL draft.

Ehlinger’s decision comes one day after the Longhorns fired coach Tom Herman and replaced him with Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

“I want to think Longhorn Nation for this incredible ride,” Ehlinger said in a video posted on Twitter. “… I now know that it’s time for me to go to the NFL. It is my highest hope that I make all of your proud in the next chapter of my football career.”

Ehlinger finishes his Texas career ranked second in passing yards (11,436) and passing touchdowns (94). Colt McCoy is the program leader in both categories — 13,253 yards and 112 touchdowns from 2006-09.

This season, Ehlinger passed for 2,566 yards and 26 touchdowns against five interceptions in 10 games. He also rushed for 377 yards and eight scores.

Ehlinger rushed for 1,907 yards and 33 touchdowns during his career.

Texas said Ehlinger has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 30.

–Field Level Media