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INDIANAPOLIS – Once he got through the pretty good injury news, Chris Ballard was ready to talk about the lofty outside expectations for his football team.
And Ballard definitely wants his team to embrace those expectations in 2019.
Move-in day for the Colts at Grand Park had Ballard covering topics on position battles, the outside noise hyping his team up in 2019 and an Anthony Castonzo contract question.
Here’s a run-down on notes from Ballard meeting the media on Wednesday morning.
-On camp at Grand Park: “From a facility standpoint, there’s nowhere better in the league (Ballard pointed out the luxury of having 3 indoor practice fields, if need be). We have everything we need here.”
-On learning from the Kansas City playoff loss: “Well, we were disappointed because we got our ass kicked. But we also knew it was the first step in the journey…I do go back when Bill (Polian) is here and I think it was Year 6 before they won their first playoff game, so it just takes time. You have to enjoy the journey. You have to build. You have to grow. You are going to have some failures along the way, some disappointments that you have to be able to deal with and get over. We talk about this a lot. I don’t ever want us to have any kind of institutional arrogance for where we think we have it made. That’s not how I am. That’s not how Frank (Reich) is. That’s not how our owner is. We always want to make sure we are learning and working and moving forward. More pissed because we got our ass whipped and I didn’t think we performed like we are capable of performing.”
-On if there’s been talks with Anthony Castonzo and his representation about a possible new contract: “I’m not going to get into contract stuff. I will never do that with you all. I will tell you this, we always have lines in the water and you know my feelings on wanting to keep our players who perform and do the right thing.”
-On the high expectations: “Expectations are good. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. But I think as you visit with our players and watch our players work, every year is a new year. It is. I’ve talked about this a lot. I don’t want us to be, and Frank doesn’t want us to be a momentum team. We don’t want to play off of momentum. I just think that burns you in the long run. We want to continue to work to get better. Frank is outstanding at this and he’s outstanding at setting the message and I think you know the message is getting through to your players when they are repeating it, and then living it. You have to work and you’ve got to earn it and come together as a team. Expectations are good. That’s not a bad thing. Let’s embrace them. Let’s go to work, let’s have fun, let’s compete and let’s get better every day.”
-On position battles Ballard will be watching at camp: “If you look at the offensive line, we were really happy with Le’Raven Clark this spring. It’s different when you get the pads on. You have to continue to grow, but that competition between him, (Antonio) Garcia, Joe Haeg, that 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th lineman, those five spots, which you know how critical and how important I think those are. On the D-line, there’s some depth and there’s going to be some competition between the young players, with (Ben) Banogu getting some rush time and (Al-Quadin) Muhammad and Geri Green. I think there’s going to be real competition at wideout. It’s going to be fun to watch that group compete because they all have special traits. I think it goes understated how Zach Pascal played last year. I think he played very well for us. That was a June (waiver) claim. He comes in and competes his butt off and makes it. He played unselfish. He played on special teams. He plays any spot you ask him to play. Deon Cain, man (Ballard pauses for 8 seconds), first I’m very proud of the kid. To watch him work, over the last year, has been…I think Deon will tell you this, he’s probably grown and matured more over the past year. Sometimes setbacks can be a positive and he turned it into one. He worked his ass off. We will limit him here early, but the last two days here have been pretty fun to watch.”