Colts notebook: Frank Reich won’t play starters vs. Lions

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WESTFIELD, INDIANA – AUGUST 12: Head coach Frank Reich and Carson Wentz #2 of the Indianapolis Colts talk on the field during the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts joint practice at Grand Park on August 12, 2021 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

WESTFIELD, Ind.– Training camp is in the rearview mirror, and it’s full speed ahead to Sept. 12.

That’s when the Indianapolis Colts wade into the regular season against the Seattle Seahawks at Lucas Oil Stadium. And that’s the next time fans will catch a glimpse of the vast majority of the team’s front-line players.

The Colts close the preseason Friday at Detroit, and Frank Reich announced at the close of Thursday’s final camp practice that most of his starters won’t play against the Lions.

Reich and his staff had been “on the fence’’ regarding how much time starters would play Friday, but that changed when Detroit coach Dan Campbell decided he would not be playing his starters.

“I was on the fence,’’ Reich said. “I was prepared to play the guys a little bit, not much but just a little final tune-up.

“And then when I find out they weren’t playing theirs, that kind of made the decision easy for me.’’

Jacob Eason will start at quarterback, followed by rookie Sam Ehlinger and perhaps Brett Hundley.

Because of injuries and the last-second coordination between Reich and Campbell, the Colts face the reality of heading into a season teeming with high expectations with a slew of their front-line players not stepping on the field during the preseason.

Among players who’ll open against the Seahawks without benefit of even one snap in a preseason game: quarterback Carson Wentz, left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly, wideout T.Y. Hilton, linebacker Darius Leonard, running back Jonathan Taylor, defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Kemoko Turay, tight end Jack Doyle and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.

All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was on the field for three snaps at Minnesota.

“I feel good where we’re at,’’ Reich said. “I feel like we’ve got a lot of good physical work in four weeks. Worked really hard, did get some quality time.

“Got two days against the Panthers as well. I feel like physically we’re in good shape.’’

More work for Wentz

Wentz endured a third straight day of extensive work after returning to practice Monday. His routine was the same: heavy throwing in 7-on-7 drills but nothing in team sessions.

Wentz unofficially was 23-of-30 with a pair of interceptions. For those keeping track at home, that’s five interceptions in three days.

“It’s all been positive,’’ Reich said. “We feel very good where he’s at.’’

Brief scare for Hilton

The final day at camp included a few anxious moments.

One of Wentz’s better throws was a deep pass down the middle to Hilton. He went up between safeties Julian Blackmon and George Odum for the difficult catch, but landed awkwardly.

Hilton immediately got up, but went down in back of the end zone and was attending to by trainers. He eventually got up and returned for the final portion of camp.

One last audition

The Lions game represents one final audition for one third of the roster. The 80-player roster must be trimmed to 53 by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“Thankfully it’s going to be tough decisions,’’ Reich said.

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