Next for Colts QB Stephen Morris? The excruciating waiting game
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Stephen Morris has done his part, including a nice closing act Thursday night in Cincinnati.
But did it matter? Probably not.
With Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to trim rosters from 75 to 53 looming, the Indianapolis Colts face several dicey decisions. One is whether Morris, a third-year quarterback out of Miami, did enough during the preseason to earn one of those spots.
That either means the coaching staff considers him Andrew Luck’s backup – and coach Chuck Pagano recently said that job belongs to Scott Tolzien – or the team will carry three quarterbacks.
Again, neither seems likely. The latter would be extremely difficult considering the number of players dealing with short-term injuries that could make them unavailable for the Sept. 11 opener against the Detroit Lions.
The last time the Colts carried three quarterbacks on the opening-day roster was 2012, Luck’s rookie season. Behind him were Drew Stanton and Chandler Harnish.
If the intricacies of forming the active roster don’t allow for Morris’ inclusion, the team undoubtedly would want him on its 10-player practice squad. But it’s possible, even likely, another quarterback-hungry team would claim him off waivers.
Morris made the most of his final audition Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. He completed 20-of-30 passes for 217 yards and one touchdown, that a 25-yarder to rookie Tevaun Smith with 40 seconds remaining that produced a 13-10 victory.
Afterwards, Pagano was asked whether the team might carry three QBs considering how well both Morris and Tolzien performed during the preseason.
“Great question,” he said. “With the way he has played, it’s a discussion that’s obviously worthy. He’s played extremely well and gotten so much better from the OTAs to training camp.
“He’s been outstanding. He’s made a ton of improvement. (Position coach) Brian Schottenheimer has done a real good job with those guys. Stephen reported back to training camp with a different mindset and a kind of sense of urgency for him. He great up a lot, and it has paid off.”
Morris was on the Colts’ active roster for the final two games of the 2015 season.
He did everything possible to earn a roster spot during his extensive preseason exposure: 39-of-61 for 531 yards with four touchdowns, one interception and a 106.7 passer rating.
Tolzien, meanwhile, completed 41-of-62 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and an 87.4 rating.
Now, Morris waits.
“I’ll be my phone, just waiting to see what happens and go from there,” he said. “Go into the facility (Friday), get a good lift, get a good workout in and go from there.”
Everything, he added, no longer is in his control.
“I have to learn the decision up to Brian and coach Pagano, and really just go from there,” Morris said. “All I can ask for is that I played my heart out and go from there.”
It was mentioned he excelled in a game that didn’t count.
“That game counted,” Morris argued. “That game counted. It’s good film to put out, leading the team down to a good two-minute drive. It wasn’t just me. Guys made plays.
“(MeKale) McKay made a hell of a catch down the sideline. I don’t even know how he stayed in bounds. Guys made plays for me and I just did my job to help this team win.”
The only remaining question: Was it enough?