Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is set to make his debut with the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Colts head coach Frank Reich confirmed this week that Ryan would see time against the Bills.
It will be the first action Ryan has seen in the preseason in more than two years. 2020 preseason games were lost to the pandemic, and first-year head coach Arthur Smith elected to sit all of his starters during the preseason last year.
Ever the professional, Ryan has always publicly protected the franchise, his coaches and teammates, but it was clear by his comments this week that he would have preferred to play in the preseason.
“I mean honestly, I’ve always felt it was important,” said Ryan on playing the preseason with a new team. “Different coaches and different years have different points of emphasis but I’ve always felt like there is a lot of work that gets done this time of the year – some of it in games, some of it in practices.”
“So, I don’t really think my approach has changed all that much throughout my career.”
Ryan acknowledged that the decision to play isn’t up to him. It wasn’t up to him last season with Smith, and it’s not up to him with the Colts.
“I’ve always liked getting out there and getting some reps and doing those kind of things, but that’s not my call,” said Ryan. “That’s up to (head coach) Frank (Reich) and (general manager) Chris (Ballard), and they’ve got to determine what’s best for the team.”
Asked if it was strange to him sitting out last year, Ryan took the high road.
“Yeah, I mean the last two years have been odd. I mean, the year before that we had no preseason games too. I don’t know how else to answer it (laughing).”
Ryan was traded to the Colts for a third-round draft pick after an ill-advised pursuit of scandal-plagued quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Falcons used that pick to take edge rusher Deangelo Malone out of Western Kentucky.
The Falcons are scheduled to begin their preseason games on Friday at 6 p.m. EST against the Detroit Lions. There is much more competition this year for starting spots, so expect to see Smith change his plan from last year and play many more eventual starters including Ryan’s replacement at quarterback Marcus Mariota.