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INDIANAPOLIS – Even amidst the business that is Training Camp, Chris Ballard carved out an hour of his schedule on Monday to join the #PFTPM podcast.
Host Mike Florio asked Ballard a variety of questions, covering everything from Andrew Luck’s preseason debut, possibly pursuing Dez Bryant, and the new helmet rule.
Below are some of the highlights from the interview:
-On pursing free agent wide receivers Dez Bryant or Jeremy Maclin: “Good players, without question. Right now, internally, we are just going to continue to work with this young group that we have and continue to go down this preseason path. If we get to a point where we think we need to reach out, those will be a couple of guys that will be on the list.”
-On Andrew Luck making his return to game action last Thursday in Seattle: “I was happy for the kid. I was excited for Andrew. Since I’ve walked in the building last January, to where we are now, the work that he put in, he’s struggled to get back and it just took time. To watch him mature and grow and get to that moment…in the locker room before the game he was like a little kid getting ready for Christmas. For a first preseason game, I did have nerves for him. But saying that, I also have a lot of confidence, because I’ve been watching him through this entire process of where he’s going. To be honest with you, I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Andrew Luck. I really don’t. I think we are about to. Because I don’t ever want to say injury is a good thing. But to see the growth in him over this last year and a half has been really fun to watch.”
-On Luck changing his playing style: “You don’t want to strip him of his instincts and how he plays the game, but you want to play the game smart and live to play another down. When you don’t need to take an unnecessary shot, don’t take an unnecessary shot. You’re going to get hit enough in an NFL football game. That’s the nature of it. But don’t take those unnecessary shots. I think he understands that. I think you are going to see a lot of growth. For me to say when it’s going to happen, I don’t know. But I do believe, over this season and the upcoming seasons, you are going to see Andrew really expand and do some pretty special things. “
-On the strong relationship Frank Reich has with his quarterbacks: “He understands how hard the quarterback position is and what they are going through, when they struggle, when they have success. That’s been very good for quarterbacks because Frank is able to relate to them on a daily basis.”
-On Frank Reich calling plays, while handing head coaching responsibilities: “He’s big on trust and delegation. I know on offense, he’s been big on delegating to each one of our offensive coaches on what they are responsible for each week, in terms of game plan, dealing with the players, all the aspects that go into getting into Sunday. He’s also going to call plays. (We) talked a long time about that. It’s not easy to be the head coach and also call plays, but because of the way he delegates, I think it allows him to do it.”
-On the new helmet rule: “It’s going to be a challenge. The league has come out with some great example videos to show us. Seattle does I think as good of a job as anybody. Matt (Eberflus) coming from Dallas, they teach a hamstring tackle, which is similar to the rugby tackle and takes the head out of the game. There’s still going to be some helmet-to-helmet contract. It’s going to happen. You try to teach it from a fundamental standpoint and emphasize it every day to take the helmet out of play. I know the league is making a big emphasis on it at the youth football level, making sure we are correctly teaching it from the ground up, so when they are advancing, they are doing it with the right techniques. It’s going to be interesting to see how this thing plays out. The ones that bother me is when you see the crown of the helmet. Anytime you see the crown of the helmet duck and then take a shot. Are there going to be some inadvertent? Are there going to be some calls that we possibly disagree with? Absolutely.”
-On Jim Irsay saying the Colts wouldn’t take a first-round pick in exchange for Jacoby Brissett: “We love Jacoby, without question we do. That would be a question we would have to have internally. Luckily, the football gods looked upon us last year and gave us the opportunity to acquire Jacoby Brissett. To be put in the situation he was last year, right after the cut down we make the trade and get him into Indy and then to start two weeks later in an offense that was completely different than what he was in in New England, just the verbiage and for him to come in and keep us in games, and give us a chance to win games in the fourth quarters…those would be some interesting discussions internally. But we think an awfully lot of Jacoby Brissett.”
-On his approach to free agency: “It’s hard to build a team when the core of your team is not your own. I’m not against free agency. If there comes a point where I ever think we are in a position culturally and with enough players internally the way we want to do things here in Indy, can help absorb when we bring a guy in the building that makes things a lot easier.”
-On the expectations of the fans in 2018: “I think they expect to see a team that competes and shows growth and development. We are going to be young…and we do think we have some pieces offensively to be pretty good. Defensively, we are going to be very young. We see how quickly they develop and grow. We hope quickly. But I do believe our fans know where we are at. They want to see us compete and continue to grow.”
-On this new defensive style for the Colts: “I’m big into the fundamental aspect of football. You want to beat people because we know what we are doing, and we are going to play hard, and execute better than you will.”