INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers today spoke to the media via conference call. What are his thoughts on the Colts' depth at wide receiver, how he hopes the team approaches getting ready for games with few to no fans and his decision to play over opting out in 2020?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are a few main takeaways:
» Rivers is excited to utilize a "deep" group of receivers, helping add to the unpredictability factor for the offense: Whether it's T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell or rookie Michael Pittman Jr., or even a number of guys battling for spots behind them, the Colts can boast quite a talented, versatile group of wide receivers heading into the 2020 season.
There's Hilton and his elite route running and quickness, Pascal's size, strength and toughness, Campbell's top-end speed and Pittman Jr.'s reliable hands, making gameplanning a difficult task for opposing defenses, Rivers believes.
"I think it makes you more dangerous," Rivers said. "It's a deep group. I think when you have a diverse, deep group, it does make you harder to defend.
"It's kind of one of those deals of, like, 'Hey, we don't know where the football is going,'" Rivers said." And it makes it harder on the defense when you're not necessarily having a formation of things for one particular guy. Certainly you call plays and orchestrate things where you think the ball's going to a certain guy, but … it seems like such an unselfish group."
» More than ever, it'll be on the players to find ways to hype themselves and their teammates up with fewer (or no) fans in the stands in 2020: The Colts have already announced that as of now, they're expecting home crowds of no more than 25 percent capacity at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2020; other venues across the league, due to local measures put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are already expecting no fans to be in the stands throughout the season.
It'll be an odd dynamic for most NFL players, who have been playing in front of tens of thousands of fans each week since college and are used to getting that homefield advantage.
And while Rivers certainly appreciates the home crowd, he has never had an issues getting amped up before or during a game; he's hoping to see the majority of his teammates react the same way throughout 2020, as well.
"You hear teams and you hear players talk about all the time, 'We don't care where we'll play; we'll play in the parking lot, we'll play in the backyard.' You're going to find out how true that is this year, because it's going to be a little more of that environment," he said.
The Colts are exploring the possibility of holding a couple training camp practices at Lucas Oil Stadium, where they could get a good idea how to grasp playing in those quieter-than-usual conditions.
"I think the energy is going to have to come from each other, you know? Feed off each other and truly just that love to compete," Rivers said. "And if guys need a little external motivation, I imagine it'll probably be the most-watched NFL on TV of all-time."
» Entering his 17th NFL season, Rivers still had some of those first day of school nervous vibes when going through on-field workouts and walkthroughs for the first time with his new team on Monday: Linebacker Darius Leonard and left tackle Anthony Castonzo both talked earlier this week about Rivers' obvious passion for the game and the juice he brings to the office every day. That's certainly not surprising, considering Rivers' 16 previous NFL seasons and his knack for being a high-energy guy.
But what might be surprising to know is that Rivers was actually feeling a little bit nervous on Monday, when the entire Colts team got together for on-field workouts and walkthroughs for the first time all year.
It's understandable, however, considering this is the first time Rivers has ever started anew in his NFL career. He's still figuring out how to best be himself while also taking into account the already-established locker room culture in Indy.
"I think the biggest thing is, yeah, some of it, most of it, is just me being me," Rivers said of his energy. "I think you certainly don't want to force it. You don't want to ever feel like anybody feels like it's fake.
"I was excited to be here. I was nervous Monday morning, a little nervous first time out there and walked through the first time. And, you know, in the building like that, with all of us here. But I think what you do want (is) to be yourself and be there and be the guy you've always been. But at the same time … feel out the environment you're in and feel out what role is needed from you."
» Rivers spelled out why he decided against opting out for the 2020 season: Colts head coach Frank Reich on Wednesday announced cornerback Marvell Tell III and safety Rolan Milligan have decided to go on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and sit out the 2020 season; linebacker Skai Moore was the first Colts player to opt-out earlier this week.
Rivers said he understands why some players would make that decision, especially as a father of nine children himself. But ultimately, at this point in his career, and considering all the factors at play, Rivers said he's full-go for the 2020 season.
"I think it's really up to each person and their family to do what's best for them," Rivers said. "You understand the concerns that one may have both of their own health, their family's, the health of the child, of a mother, who knows. So I think the league and the (NFLPA) tried to do the best job they could as far as the contract toll and obviously somewhat of a payment up front.
"Obviously the health of my family and the safety of them is of the utmost importance," Rivers said of his decision. "You just try to be smart."
The 38-year-old Rivers said he also had to consider where he was at in his own career.
"I think that this point, making that decision (to opt out) for me would have been making the decision to be done, period — you know, retiring — which is nowhere on my mind," he said.
Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, Chad Kelly and Jacob Eason got reps in at Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center ahead of the 2020 season.