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INDIANAPOLISThe wildest offseason program seen in years is coming to a close for the Indianapolis Colts.

Monday marked the final time Colts head coach Frank Reich meets with the media before summer break begins for the Colts.

Under the current schedule, players will report to Indianapolis on July 28 for Training Camp, with things obviously subject to change.

Reich began his final spring call recounting on the ‘powerful’ team meetings that the Colts had last week.

Along with the Colts statement sent out about the death of George Floyd, and the social injustice issue in our country right now, Reich also provided his thoughts on the situation last Monday.

This week, Reich shared the two following stories from last week’s meetings:

“One of our (black) players walking into a well-known store here in Indianapolis and seeing the person at the cash register, it became very obvious that they hit the button to call security for just walking into the store,” Reich told. “There’s more to that story and I’m not going to go into the details. During the time of this story, there wasn’t a dry eye on the call.”

“This is a story from a white player, also a well-known player, who has a reputation for being a very good, strong, tough player who is a great teammate. And you know that on the field, this guy has your back. His story was very moving. It moves me to even think about it. He said, ‘Guys, I’ve always had your back on the field.’ But as a result of what he was hearing, ‘I now want to have your back off the field,” I feel that same way.”

Reich said that, coupled with the core beliefs of the Colts organization, the fight against social injustice will not be an individual thing.

“This just isn’t an issue for the black community, this is our issue,” the head coach stressed. “That’s us as an organization. We really want to embrace that and do our part. This issue has not only become our issue. It’s become our mission. And it’s our mission in this city, in this state, and really our issue in this nation.

“One thing our players made crystal clear, it can’t just be talk. We’ve got to act, as a team, as an organization. And excited to do so.”

On Monday, Reich also gave his thoughts on why the Colts spent the entirety of last week’s meetings (Tuesday-Thursday) on non-football talk.

“I care, we care, the Irsay family cares about our players,” he said. “That’s primary. There’s also the philosophy and understanding of you can’t separate the player and the person. If anyone listening had an incredible burden on your heart, just imagine one of the heaviest burdens you can bear, and now you go to work, and now how are you going to be at work? You are probably not going to be all there.

“So we decided to hit the pause button. We are at that time of year where we could do that, deal with the issue, talk about it, so we could grow. I wanted to learn. I knew our team could understand and learn from this issue.”

Now, Reich did field several football related questions on Monday.

The highlights from those are below:

-On if Philip Rivers will throw with teammates this summer: “I know he’s doing that. He’s here now, he’s in Indy…I know he’s already calling guys to throw.”

Bowen’s Analysis: Time to update the Indianapolis census with the move of the 11-person Rivers family now official. The Rivers bunch is here, and that means their father is ready to throw with some of his teammates. That’s a big part of this offseason, with Rivers missing out on all those valuable in-person reps that happens during a normal spring. Instead of Rivers throwing to his guys in full team settings 13 times this spring (10 OTAs and 3 minicamp practices), he still has yet to meet his teammates face-to-face. While Rivers having a big head start on the playbook is great, he’s still throwing the ball to a totally different personnel group for the first time his entire career.

On having Doc Rivers, Ray Allen and Tony Dungy speak to the team this spring: “These guys are winners, these guys are warriors. They have overcome struggles. They fight to win. They have won championships. They have done it the right way. Those are all part of our vision and what we aspire to do. I think it’s helpful to hear their perspective. These are all very accomplished men, more accomplished than I am. Just an opportunity for guys to hear men that I know they respect…I think it energized us. Those three guys were really a highlight to this offseason. I know our players won’t forget those messages.”

Bowen’s Analysis: Virtual teaching and learning for the Colts this spring meant Reich wanted to get creative. He did that by having NBA champions Doc Rivers and Ray Allen speak to the team on separate days. Tony Dungy talked to the team last week about the social injustice issue so prevalent in our country right now. This week is the final week of the Colts offseason program in full team settings. Reich said that players are planning to do some on-field work, without coaches (due to league rules), next week, and that would include something a ‘bigger scale.’ As we’ve mentioned before this offseason, including the defense in those team-like activities is needed, and something Colts players are expected to do in trying to somewhat mimic what they have missed this spring. Over the next two weeks, players will meet with their position coaches in 1-on-1 cases. Then it’s time for summer break. Rookies will report to Indianapolis for training camp on July 22. Veterans will follow for report day on July 28. That all leads into the Colts having their first preseason game on Thursday, August 13th. Remember, training camp will be at the Colts team facility this year.

On part of Reich’s message to the guys leaving for summer vacation: “We start Week 1 in Jacksonville. It’s going to be hot. We better be in shape.”

Bowen’s Analysis: As Reich should be doing, he’s trying to drill home to his players don’t be caught by surprise when camp and the season gets here. You have to approach things like the schedule will still unfold as currently is, and that means preparing like you normally would for a season. ‘Don’t think you are invincible, be smart, be very intentional’ are some of the things Reich will echo to his team in their final week of full team meetings this spring. In the back of Reich (and more so Jim Irsay’s) mind, you have to think the thought of the Colts not winning a season opener since 2013, or not winning in Jacksonville since 2014, are ugly notes that they want to be gone come the afternoon of September 13th.

-On the improved depth of the Colts: “I think each year, it’s gotten deeper and stronger. That’s really a credit to Chris (Ballard) and his staff and really everyone. I think the vision becomes clearer and clearer.”

Bowen’s Analysis: Not only does Reich think the depth is unquestionably better, but he points to the ‘core leadership’ being more evident as well. That’s key to what Chris Ballard wants in building ‘inside, out’ and focusing on high character players. On paper, this does appear to be a Colts team that should have depth to withstand injuries, particularly at running back, defensive line and linebacker. The inability to do that really cost the Colts in 2019.

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