Ryan Lindley looked around a crowded Indianapolis Colts quarterback room on Wednesday and made some instant connections.
Joining the conversation was backup passer Charlie Whitehurst, with whom he spent some time in San Diego in 2014. Three previous seasons in Arizona meant working with head coach Bruce Arians, the Colts’ offensive coordinator in 2012, so he recognized some of the playbook.
Question is, will Lindley be the Colts’ go-to guy on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium?
He and sixth-year pro Josh Freeman were signed Tuesday and took the first-team snaps with the offense Wednesday. Andrew Luck hasn’t been cleared, backup Matt Hasselbeck is doubtful and Whitehurst was placed on injured reserve Monday. The other quarterback in the room was first-year pro Stephen Morris, who hasn't played in an NFL game.
“I was saying we have a phenomenal quarterback room right now,” Lindley said. “We got twice the power with six guys in there (laughs). With Andrew, with Charlie (Whitehurst) with Matt and (quarterbacks) coach (Clyde) Christensen, it’s unreal. There’s a wealth of knowledge in there. Guys have been around.
“It’s funny we were all talking in there how kind of all of us got six degrees of separation. I spent some time in San Diego so me and Charlie talked about some San Diego stuff. Obviously there’s the B.A. (Bruce Arians) connection being in Phoenix and Arizona. It’s great. They’re going to help out a lot and they already have been. Out on the field, it was great having those guys out there and kind of being in your ear in between plays.”
Lindley hasn’t played an NFL down this season after being cut by New England in preseason. He finished last season as the injury replacement in Arizona, starting three of four games, but struggled for the most part. He completed just 48.4 percent of his passes in the regular season with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Lindley also took 46 sacks. In his nine-game NFL career, he has just two scoring passes and 11 interceptions.
But it’s the final week of a long NFL regular season. Most teams aren’t looking for a starting quarterback for the last game, which the Colts (7-8) must still consider important because they’re not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. That said, it’s a long shot for the Colts to make their third consecutive postseason — nine games including their own must have favorable outcomes to secure a tiebreaker advantage over the Houston Texans (8-7) for the AFC South Division title.
Lindley, 26, was asked the obvious question: How quickly can he be ready to play?
“I mean it’s person to person,” he said. “I think we can all take a snap and we can all communicate, it’s just a matter of getting ourselves on the same page. There are a lot of moving pieces in the National Football League. We’ll go day-by-day, we’ll progress and we’ll be ready to play a football game on Sunday.”
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said the decision on a starter might not be made until a few hours before kickoff on Sunday morning.
“I’ve got a good feel,” Lindley said of the Colts playbook. “It’s something that I think I’m pretty familiar with, something that’s kind of similar to what I’ve done in the past. It’s an easy transition. I’ve been other places where it’s not as easy and it would probably take a lot longer but this should be pretty smooth. It’s just a matter of us kind of ‘repping' it out and getting a muscle memory for it.”
A week ago at this time, Lindley was already planning offseason workouts. He was understandably looking ahead to being prepared for some team in the next preseason. So he didn’t mind the lack of sleep in hopping a plane to Indianapolis and, on a short week, getting this late opportunity.
“We’ll be ready to go by Sunday,” he said.
He conceded waiting for another NFL team to call is frustrating.
“Any time, you’re a competitor,” he said. “I mean I still want to play the game, that’s why I’m here. When you’re sitting at home and you’re not doing that, you miss the grind and you try to kind of mimic it or fan it yourself. There’s only so much you can do when everybody that’s your peers are out playing and they’re out in-season in work mode.
“You just stay as ready as you can and are ready for an opportunity like this, whether it’s week 1 or week 17.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.