INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich spoke to the media today via conference call. What is the latest on who will be the starter at running back to open the season, if the team is considering having three quarterbacks on its active roster, whether the Colts will consider operating in a "bubble" and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» The Colts aren't considering utilizing more of a "bubble" approach like some other teams: While organizations like the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys have set up their players, coaches and essential staff in hotels near their facilities in an effort to thwart the COVID-19 virus, Reich said the Colts, as of now, will continue staying the course with their training camp plan, which allows for the players to go to their respective residences at the end of each working day.
The league and the NFLPA agreed upon rules for the players to follow when they're away from their facilities, which includes suspensions and fines being handed out for "high risk COVID-19 conduct," which can include going to bars, clubs and sporting events, as well as indoor house parties and church services above a certain attendance threshold.
So with those guidelines in place, Reich is putting the trust in his players to be professionals and understand the magnitude of the situation.
"We're not going crazy, and we're not trying to tell guys that you shouldn't go out, you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that," Reich said. "We're setting guidelines. We're talking about safe practices. We're talking about being reasonable, taking reasonable precautions, and then trusting our guys to do that."
If there's an obvious uptick in positive COVID-19 cases, Reich said those plans could always change. But for now, it's status quo.
"So far it's been a good start to the time that we've been here," he said. "Our guys have done a good job; we've not had any cases come up. So that'll be our approach. We're always ready to adjust if needed, but right now we feel comfortable with the approach we're taking."
» The Colts are considering keeping a third quarterback on their regular season roster: Reich, a former longtime NFL quarterback himself, tends to be a traditionalist in this sense; in a normal year, he would usually push for just a starter and a backup.
But nothing about 2020 has been normal.
With the COVID-19 pandemic being a major factor in every roster decision, teams across the league are tossing around the possibility of keeping an extra quarterback on the active roster in case of that nightmare scenario of their starter testing positive late in the week.
On the other hand, however, every spot on the active roster is extremely valuable, and teams are going to be weary about using one of those spots on a third quarterback who might never log a single snap all season; the league also has expanded practice squads, and added protection for some practice squad players, this year for this very reason.
Reich and general manager Chris Ballard continue to discuss the pros and cons of keeping a third quarterback on the active roster, but are yet to come to that decision.
"That's to be determined," Reich said. "But all options are open as we continue to progress forward and see where the roster is at that time. We'll weigh the pros and cons of going with two or going with three"
» Marlon Mack is considered the "starter" at running back as of now: When the Colts moved up three spots in the second round of this year's draft to select All-American Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, many immediately wondered what that meant for Marlon Mack's status moving forward.
Over the last few months, both Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni have talked about the excitement of having a "1-1 punch" at running back, with two starting-caliber players able to attack a defense at any given time throughout a game.
The fact remains, however, that one guy has to be the actual "starter" when the Colts begin the season Sept. 13 on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Reich confirmed today that Mack, who is coming off his first-career 1,000-yard rushing season, will be that guy at running back for the Colts, but lots will factor into how and when Taylor will be utilized.
"Marlon's a starter," Reich said. "Marlon's earned it. He's had a couple of really good years for us. But we're going to continue to take the same approach that we have, where it's week in and week out, hot hand, all those things.
"We're expecting a big year from all our backs, but in particular, Marlon, he looks good," Reich continued. "So (I) just feel good about how the backs complement each other. I really do. I feel like that's a strong room for us. I feel like those guys are very unselfish and they're in it for each other. And so Marlon needs to be a leader the way he plays, and we expect him to do that."
See the Indianapolis Colts take the field once again with a walk-thru during training camp.