Top Takeaways: Frank Reich On OTAs, Day 1

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich on Tuesday spoke to reporters after the team’s first OTA practice of the offseason. What were the top takeaways from Reich’s session?

» Andrew Luck is out this week with a calf strain: Reich said the quarterback suffered the injury during a workout with the team, and he’ll be re-evaluated at the beginning of next week. “Just a little tweak; little strain,” Reich said. “So my whole mode — and our whole mode — is going to be during this session, just to be real conservative with anybody who has any issue whatsoever.” With Luck out on Tuesday, the team had Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker and the recently-signed Chad Kelly at the quarterback position; Reich said the plan is to carry four quarterback through the offseason, training camp and the preseason, just like last year.

» Devin Funchess is already showing what he can do: The Colts didn’t sign too many outside free agents this offseason, but a clear priority for the team was bringing Funchess on board. Funchess, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Carolina Panthers, signed a reported one-year deal with Indy back in March, and at 6 foot 4 and 225 pounds, he brings size and explosiveness to the wide receiver position that Luck and the Colts hope to utilize time and time again in 2019. On Tuesday, in his first official team practice in Indy, Funchess was catching everything thrown his way, including a nifty back-shoulder throw from Brissett on a play in which he was draped in coverage by cornerback Pierre Desir. “He just threw it up to him and he came down with it,” Reich said. “That’s one of the things that you are hoping to get. On another play he runs a deep in-cut. I don’t know who the corner was that was on him, he had inside technique and had pretty good coverage on him. Devin does a good job at the top of the route and comes underneath and makes the contested catch. That’s the kind of plays – the down the field plays, not just the back-shoulder. The in-cuts – Andrew (Luck) loves throwing in-cuts and we really think Devin is a good in-cut runner. So we will just kind of develop his whole tree – his whole passing route tree so that everything complements each other.”

» Mo Alie-Cox has a big opportunity in front of him: With Jack Doyle (hip), Eric Ebron (groin) and Ross Travis (knee) all working their way back to the field due to respective injuries and recovery timelines, that leaves Alie-Cox as the top returning tight end for the Colts heading into OTAs. And you wouldn’t have known that Alie-Cox has just nine games of NFL experience to his name on Tuesday, as he was running around and making plays all throughout the session. Reich said Alie-Cox, who hadn’t played organized football since middle school prior to signing with the Colts in 2017, was already impressive with how quickly he had picked up the nuances of his position, but he’s noticed Alie-Cox’s route running has really taken off this offseason. “We know he has got good hands, but last year I thought he struggled a little bit in his route running and he was just very average,” Reich said of Alie-Cox. “I have already seen in three weeks of Phase 2 some really key indicators to me — I mean very tangible indicators — that he can develop into a very good route runner as well. He is so long and big and they don’t want to tackle him. Mo, man I am so excited about that guy. He is headed in the right direction.”

» The work to become a top-five rushing attack is underway: The Colts this offseason added new coaches along the offensive line in Chris Strausser and his assistant, Klayton Adams, and also brought back legendary former O-line coach Howard Mudd as a senior offensive assistant coach. In March at the NFL owner’s meetings, Reich indicated he wanted to utilize those three coaches to turn Indy’s run game into a top-five unit in the NFL, after finishing 20th in rushing yards in 2018. Asked for a progress report in that area on Tuesday, Reich said he’s liked what he’s seen so far. “I think that transition has gone well,” Reich said. “I can see the emphasis that they are bringing to the table. Some of the drill work we are doing I can see it translating already. I can see it in the guys. So, really excited because as you said we really have big plans in the run game. I mean I know everybody is going to talk about Andrew (Luck) and the pass game and we are going to throw it and hopefully throw a lot of touchdowns. But really what is going to set the tone for us is going to be how we run the football. That is not going to change. We have to run the football. Our goal is going to be a top-five rushing football team. That will set up our play-action pass. That will set up all the big chunk plays. To me that will get us where we want to go.”

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