Who plays quarterback Sunday for the Indianapolis Colts is anyone’s best guess, but it’s expected to be a someone who hasn’t played a down in the NFL this season.
The Colts (7-8) have a remote chance of earning a playoff berth when they host the Tennessee Titans (3-12) at Lucas Oil Stadium, but continual injuries forced them to sign former first-round pick Josh Freeman, most recently of the Fall Experimental Football League (FXFL), and fourth-year pro Ryan Lindley, who played the previous three seasons with Arizona.
It’s between them, with Andrew Luck again ruled out, backup Matt Hasselbeck “doubtful” and backup Charlie Whitehurst placed on injured reserve Monday. First-year Stephen Morris is also on the active roster, but Freeman and Lindley took turns getting repetitions with the first team during Wednesday’s practice.
Head coach Chuck Pagano, ever the optimist, tried to put a positive spin on the situation and said the Colts might not decide who starts until Sunday morning.
“I mean, we’ve been through worse, you know what I mean?” the coach said. “We’ve got a great opportunity. We’re still in the hunt, you know, everything we’ve been through. We’ve got a little issue at the quarterback spot, which some may look at and say, ‘Gosh, how you gonna …?’
“We’ll find a way. We’ll find a way. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
The observation prompted an amused chuckle from reporters. Aside from the reality the Colts will need nine games to have favorable outcomes, including the Houston Texans (8-7) losing at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars (5-10) and the Colts winning their game, it’s far from an ideal scenario for a regular-season finale.
Freeman, 27, was once thought to be Tampa Bay’s franchise quarterback, selected with the 17th overall pick in 2009. But he lost the starting job by 2013 and was waived, then played poorly in a stint with Minnesota before being cut again. He signed with the New York Giants in the 2014 offseason, but was cut before preseason. The same thing happened again in the 2015 offseason with the Miami Dolphins.
His last game action was with the Brooklyn Bolts of the FXFL in the fall. So his last NFL game was the bad 2013 loss with the Vikings.
“My main focus right now, as is the team’s focus, is getting as prepared as we possibly can to move forward and go out and ultimately win this game on Sunday,” Freeman said.
Lindley, 26, played in four games including three starts with the Cardinals last season, but Arizona lost all three of his starts, including 27-16 at Carolina in the NFC Wild Card Playoffs. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes in his regular-season duty. He played for New England in preseason before being released.
“I got in yesterday, got a little workout in, they’ve obviously got to kick the tires with an old guy like me,” Lindley said. “Just got in, got some work in and got to work on trying to pick up where these guys left off.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.