Former Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger (pictured) is expected to make his first career start Sunday in Indianapolis Colts starter Carson Wentz can't clear the NFL's COVID-19 protocol. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Indianapolis Colts are treating second-string quarterback Sam Ehlinger as their Week 17 starter due to Carson Wentz's recent placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list, coach Frank Reich told reporters.
Reich made the comments Wednesday at a news conference. Wentz, who is not vaccinated, landed on the list Tuesday due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Under the old league protocol, Wentz would have missed 10 days and the Colts' Week 17 game. The new protocol, announced Tuesday, reduced the COVID-19 isolation time to five days, meaning Wentz could be cleared to play Sunday if he is asymptomatic.
"If [Wentz] clears his fifth day, that would be Sunday, and in theory he would be available for the game if he clears," Reich told reporters. "He will be in meetings virtual, so if he does clear, he can play.
"At this point, Sam is our starter. I'm excited for Sam."
Reich also said the team reached out to retired quarterback Philip Rivers about a potential comeback. Rivers started all 16 games last season for the Colts.
"You guys know I'm close to him," Reich said. "We talked all year long. I did talk to him fairly recently. He was on vacation with his family.
"I have talked to him about our situation here, but nothing to report and no other further comment at this point."
Ehlinger joined the Colts as a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He appeared in three games earlier this season, but did not throw a pass.
He completed 21 of 31 passes for 288 yards and three interceptions in three preseason games.
The Colts activated star left guard Quenton Nelson, right guard Mark Glowinski and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Wentz and star linebacker Darius Leonard are among nine Colts players who remain on the list.
The Colts (9-6) host the Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) at 1 p.m. EST Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Cincinnati Bengals' Tyler Boyd (83) fights to make the catch under pressure from Baltimore Ravens Tony Jefferson during the second half of play at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday. The Bengals won 41-21
as quarterback Joe Burrow threw for a franchise-record 525 yards. Photo by John Sommers II /UPI | License Photo