WESTFIELD, Ind. — Training camp is well under way, and the battle for spots is hot.
At wide receiver and tight end, there are all sorts of guys vying for roles heading into the Indianapolis Colts’ 2019 season.
Fortunately, Colts Productions’ “Behind The Colts: 2019 Training Camp” is back with a second episode to give you an exclusive, inside look into the players battling it out up at Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind.
This episode is a tremendous look at the players, yes, but you get a taste of their personalities as well.
You can check out Episode 2 in its entirety here:
Here are some highlights:
» Episode 2 is largely centered on the Colts’ wide receivers and tight ends. And thanks to some entertaining mic’d up sessions in practice, various one-on-one interviews and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from team meetings, fans get a good taste of what Indy’s pass catchers are like — both as players and as personalities — heading into the 2019 season.
» Reich, who went to several Super Bowls as a player and has won two of them as a coach, knows what a special team starts to look like in training camp. He explains to open up this episode: “As a coach, I’m always optimistic. You believe in your players, you believe in what you’re doing, you believe it in every aspect. That’s when you can start to tell it’s special. … The whole offseason is great prep, but now all the strings are off. You can just tell the excitement; you can tell the guys are focused and ready to go.”
» Head into a team meeting at the Grand Park Events Center, where offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni is addressing the players about that day’s practice. Sirianni isn’t shy about letting his feelings known during practice — good or otherwise — but on this particular day, he liked how his players responded to a sluggish start. “One thing I took away from practice today: it didn’t start great,” Sirianni said. “And as you guys know, I mean, I was on you guys pretty good. And I thought we handled adversity excellent. We handled adversity excellent, right? And guys, we know that happens so many times during the season, right? A drive stalls out. Another drive stalls out. Another drive stalls out. And then we’ve gotta go, right? And it takes somebody making a play; it takes somebody making a play and handling the adversity that you’re going through to take us out of the rut.”
» Sirianni references a play that day when quarterback Jacoby Brissett found Chester Rogers for a deep chunk down the field to get the offense going. which you see as he’s talking. “And Jacoby made a hell of a throw to Chester, Chester ran a hell of a route, and the protection was perfect, right? The whole thing was beautiful, and the next period, right, we started really fast.”
» Colts wide receivers coach Kevin Patullo talks about the versatility of his players during camp: “We’ve got all different types of receivers,” he said. “We’ve got T.Y. (Hilton) with speed, Devin’s (Funchess) a big guy, and guys with quickness with Parris (Campbell) and all these other guys and Chester (Rogers), and Zach (Pascal), he’s a combination guy. I mean, there’s so many different things in this room that it’s a lot of fun to see, and the best part is they’re all interchangeable; I know I can put ‘em in any spot, I trust them, mentally they’re good and physically they can make any play from anywhere. So it’s fun.”
» T.Y. Hilton is entering his eighth season with the Colts, and everyone knows about his “The Ghost” persona on the field. But what this episode really shows is the love Hilton has from everyone around him. He shares how his approach as a teammate and leader has changed over the years: “I’ve been feeling like the O.G. for maybe about four or five years now, you know?” Hilton said with a smile. “Ever since Reggie (Wayne) left. … I’m getting older. All the guys are younger than me, so for me, my job is to do what Reggie did for me and that’s passing the torch down, and he always showed me the ropes. And my job is to show them guys the ropes as well.”
» Tight end Eric Ebron found out last year just how dangerous the offense can be when he’s matched up with Hilton in the secondary. He believes that chemistry will be even better in 2019. “We know that when we’re on the same side together, we’re both trying to do something special,” Ebron said. “Either you’re gonna be open or I’m gonna be open. And when we know when we have that, we have to make someone pay, that way we open it up for everyone else. So I love playing beside him. I feel like last year I feel like we really started to dominate, and it’s going to be something special when we do it this year.”
» New Colts wide receiver Devin Funchess said of Hilton: “I’ve never seen a grown man laugh so much.” Don’t worry — there’s video evidence.
» Speaking of Funchess, there’s so much excitement about what this 6-foot-4, 225-pound receiver can bring to the offense. “He’s fast, he’s big. You know, he can push a DB where he wants him,” Hilton said. For his part, Funchess said when he hit free agency in March, he wasn’t even sure that the Colts would reach out — but he’s sure glad they did. “When I got the call, I was interested,” he said. “It was a no-brainer. … Gotta go with the team that had the run and has the passion to go take it over. So chose the Colts, and it’s been fun ever since I got here.”
» New nickname alert? Trying to play off Hilton’s “The Ghost” nickname, could Funchess take “The Goblin?” “The Goblin,” Hilton said. “It might fit him. It might fit him. It might fit him. … The Ghost and the Goblin, baby.”
» “Oh you know I’m all gas on this mic!” Yep, that’s Ebron. With a mic. And he’s taking advantage. His personality — and, of course, his talent and production — have been welcomed with open arms since arriving in Indy last offseason. “He’s one of those guys that he’s going to show his personality no matter what, you know? Whether he knows you or don’t know you, you’re gonna know who Ebron is.”
» Jack Doyle, meanwhile, is “like the ultimate big brother,” Ebron says. And while Doyle definitely has a more quiet, laid-back personality, fellow tight end Mo Alie-Cox says that’s not always the case. “People think Jack is quiet. Jack talks a lot,” Alie-Cox said. “All of us just look to Jack when we need something, because typically Jack knows it. … If you’re not right, he’s going to help you get right.”
» Alie-Cox, meanwhile, certainly seems to be coming into his own as he enters his second full NFL season. His story has been told numerous times — he was a college basketball player at VCU but was signed as a project by the Colts in 2017 due to his size and athleticism, despite the fact he hadn’t played organized football since middle school — but now he’s ready to simply be known as a football player. “He’s just a monster. Really, he’s just not the average human being,” Ebron says as you watch a clip of Alie-Cox powering rookie cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to the ground during a special teams drill.
» “I was talking to Jack and Eric, I was like, ‘Man, this time last year I was probably the nervous person on this football field,” Alie-Cox said. “‘Cause we were warming up, like last year, I’m going out I’m like, ‘Man, am I doing this right? Am I doing this right? I probably, like, took the wrong footwork.’ … Camp now is just, it’s physical, but I know what I’m doing and I’m not second guessing myself. I’m just going out there playing fast and I’m just trying to make plays and help the team win.”
» Zach Pascal, meanwhile, is a dancer. He proved to be a dependable playmaker for the Colts down the stretch last season as the team made its playoff push, and now he hopes to continue seeing that role evolve. “Guys don’t really know about Zach, don’t think about Zach, and that’s why I like to call him ‘The Sleeper,’ because when it’s the end of the game guys sleep on him, and then, boom! Zach makes a big play,” Hilton says of Pascal.
» Chester Rogers, meanwhile, is allegedly a loud snorer, according to his anonymous camp roommate (Pascal. It’s Pascal). But he’s also making noise of a different kind on the practice fields at Grand Park. “Chester loves to have fun, but what’s changed about Chester is his competitive drive,” Patullo said. “I mean, he’s done such a good job about competing and wanting to get better, and understanding his role, understanding, ‘Hey, I might not be the primary guy on this route, but I have to win.”
» The episode wraps up with a speech from team owner Jim Irsay to the guys after practice. “You guys, to be in the camp, is a tremendous accomplishment,” Irsay said. “ We have a commitment to greatness. Every second we’re focused, and that’s what it’s about. … I couldn’t be more happy with the health, with the attitude, that all of you guys have that you’re bringing here to us, and this is gonna be special. But again, this is going to be fun, men. You’ve been blessed. And you love this game. You love it!”