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INDIANAPOLIS – His head was spinning, he was out of shape and a post-practice routine of eating wings or Wendy’s wasn’t helping any sort of NFL growth.
No matter how you look at it, Reece Fountain had a disappointing rookie season.
Even in a wide receiver group that was desperately looking for someone to emerge, Fountain was stuck on the practice squad for three months. He played 3 total regular season snaps, all kneel downs to end a game.
When Fountain did get the call-up to the 53-man roster, he dropped a touchdown in the Divisional Round loss to the Chiefs.
As Fountain looks back on his rookie season, he candidly admits (in a great interview with ‘Voice of the Colts’ Matt Taylor) that life in the NFL was too big for him, physically and mentally.
“For me personally, I know one thing that is very different from last season to this is I was not in shape,” the 6-2 Fountain said to Taylor. “I was not in shape. It was crazy, I actually laugh about it with the strength and conditioning coaches now. I came in around 220 (pounds), had 10 percent body fat. I came in last offseason sluggish. I didn’t like the way I was running routes, the way I was moving. I was losing my breath. I was out of breath almost every other play. This year, I came back in some of the best shape of my life.”
“When I got here, and learned all the different terminology and having to really read coverages, my head was spinning. It was a huge jump for me. I was learning to adjust certain routes based off the coverage and stuff like that and having to look at the linebackers to help identify certain coverages that the defense was in. It was just a lot. I was getting asked to run routes that I had never been asked to run before, and I had never heard of. It was like, ‘Man this is so much that is going on right now. I don’t know if I can process this.’ I was just so used at Northern Iowa, they would tell me, ‘Go run a go-ball and catch it over somebody’s head.’”
The Colts staff hounded Fountain on his technique, putting him on the practice squad after a very underwhelming preseason.
Fountain told Taylor he figured that most draft picks just make the 53-man roster. The rookie found out the hard way, that’s not always the case.
“(Chris Ballard) really stuck to his word and I respected it,” Fountain says of getting cut after last year’s preseason. “The best players are going to play. He didn’t really feel like I showed them what type of player I was and I understood it. I would be the first one to admit, I didn’t have a great camp. I was battling through injuries and clearly everything was chaotic for me at the time.”
“It was a humbling experience. Overall, it made me a whole different player and it just humbled me to let me know that I really have to work, no matter if you are a draft pick or not. You have to go earn it. Our GM says all the time, ‘You are going to get what you earn.’ So it just taught me to work harder.”
That work has a re-focused Fountain entering Year Two, down 13 pounds, and with a much better understand of what it takes to be a professional football player.
“Last year, I’m not going to lie to you, I would be done with practice and go eat unhealthy, go eat some hot wings, or Wendy’s or something like that. But I really got in touch with our nutritionist (Anna Turner), (strength and conditioning coaches Rusty Jones and Rich Howell) and really just set out a plan of how many calories I can intake throughout the week when I’m working out and when I’m not, and where they think my body fat should be, with my lean mass all that stuff, my weight. And I just really stuck to it and bought in. After the season ended, I just bought in to it. Players usually take a good amount of time off before they start working out again. But I kind of just went in to it. Being on the practice squad for most of the year, I knew I had something to prove. I didn’t do anything. I’m just going to go in to it and buy in. And I did. I was able to drop my body fat tremendously. I was like 220 (last year). I was at 207 when I got back (this spring). I was able to get in shape and I think I was able to do that by buying in.”
Frank Reich liked the progress he saw from Fountain this spring, but it’s still a tough climb to find a spot on the 53-man roster at a very crowded wideout group. Early on in this year’s camp, Fountain has had some drops in individual drills, and is not currently looking like a guy in the top 6 or 7 receivers on the roster.
“I know it’s going to be a stiff competition,” Fountain acknowledges.
He also knows that his off-season prep has him in a far better place to try and earn one of those precious wide receiver spots in 2019.
“Don’t get me wrong there’s still little things I can work technique wise and with figuring out the coverage pre-snap. But, for the most part, I’m a lot more comfortable,” Fountain says.
And that’s an absolute must if he wants to be on this team come September 1st.
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