INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich today spoke to local reporters via video conference. What's the latest on his thoughts on the Colts' players taking a stand against systemic racism, wide receiver Parris Campbell's potential return, rookie safety Julian Blackmon's recovery process and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Reich lauded his players for "standing up for the right thing at the right time:" It was Wednesday night when the Colts' nine-player leadership committee called a meeting with Reich and "laid out a very clear vision" of how they wanted to respond — and actions they wanted to take — in the wake of even more social unrest after the recent police-action shooting of yet another Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wis.
What followed was the cancellation of Thursday's training camp practice; instead, the entire team met throughout the day and established action items moving forward to make a lasting social impact and target systemic racism.
Reich understands that even this close to the start of the regular season, life is bigger than football. And he's proud of the way his players have approached their responsibilities as community leaders.
"When I tell you, you should write a textbook on it, you really should have written a textbook on how they handled it," Reich said of his leadership committee. "I really wish the whole world could have been in that meeting just to hear the level of depth of every individual. We all sat in a circle and of course Jacoby (Brissett) started out and spoke with conviction and passion about the issue, and I just listened. I didn't say a word. Then every man, all nine of them – it wasn't orchestrated, it wasn't planned out. I just listened, and they all spoke with deep conviction, clear vision and understanding of a process of what it would take, and said, 'Coach this is' – I mean this was a double-edged sword. They were kind of saying, 'Hey, we would really love for you to sign off on this, but at the same time, this is what we're going to do.' It was very respectful, but it was also very strong conviction.
"One of the things we talk about as an organization is, we place a very high value on high-character individuals," Reich continued. "One of the things high-character individuals do is they do the right thing when the right thing is called to do. I really believe that that is what our team is doing right now. Standing up for the right thing at the right time. We would expect nothing less of these men. Just very thankful for the opportunity to stand with them in this journey."
» Updates on wide receivers Parris Campbell and Zach Pascal: We learned Wednesday that Campbell had been placed in the league's concussion protocol after being involved in a minor car accident the day prior.
Reich said today that the aftermath of the accident, at least in terms of property damage done, looked anything but minor, but is thankful Campbell — who was watching Friday's practice from the sidelines — was able to escape relatively unscathed, and is hopeful he'll be back on the field soon.
"If you look at his car, you wouldn't say it was minor, but he's going to be fine," Reich said. "I was encouraged that he was out there today. Certainly, you get in an accident, your car looks like that, I'm sure it shakes you up a bit, but Parris will be fine. Just going through the (concussion) protocol and glad to have him out there today."
Pascal, meanwhile, also watched practice from the sidelines on Friday.
"Zach is going to be fine," Reich said. "He'll be back out there soon; just dealing with a hamstring a little bit, but it's nothing too bad."
» The hope is Julian Blackmon's on-field debut is "getting closer:" When the Colts selected Blackmon in the third round of this year's NFL Draft, they knew it was going to take a little bit of patience before they could see the safety's full impact on their defense.
Blackmon underwent knee surgery in December after suffering an injury during his final season at Utah, and general manager Chris Ballard has said the initial hope was that Blackmon could be playing a more significant role for the Colts by October.
Last week, Ballard said in an interview on Sirius XM NFL that Blackmon — who was placed on the Non-Football Injury list at the beginning of training camp — is getting “close,” and that the team was hoping to have him on the practice field within two or three weeks.
That translates roughly into Blackmon practicing around Week 1 of the regular season, and from there, Reich said today it'll be important to continue to be patient — despite Blackmon's, and the team's, excitement to see what he can do.
"I know he's anxious to get back out there, but we just drafted a young guy. You don't want to be over eager to get him out there," Reich said. "You get a guy this young, and he heals this fast and is this strong. You can make the argument, 'Yeah, we can push him out there, and he could be ready, and he could do it,' but we have to be smart. This is for the long haul.
"He's a rookie. He's had no offseason with us. I think whatever the process is and where he is in the process, we're just being very disciplined not to push him too soon," Reich continued. "That's hard to do because even in the little bit that we see of him and even in his rehab you can just – and when you talk to him, you get a sense that this guy is going to be a really good player, but we have to stay disciplined in our approach."