WESTFIELD, Ind. — The Colts announced contract extensions through the 2026 season for head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard Wednesday morning.
After Wednesday's practice, Reich explained what the extension means to him as he enters his fourth year as the Colts' head coach.
"I'm just extremely thankful and grateful to Mr. Irsay and the Colts organization for the confidence and support with the extension," Reich said. "Obviously incredibly excited to work with this team — the players on this team, the leadership on this team.
"And then for me as the head coach may be the most exciting thing is the relationship with Chris Ballard, he and I working together along with Mr. Irsay really to try to continue to take this team down the road that we want to go. Bright things are ahead. Could not be more excited with the roster that has been built, with the way we're doing things and the direction that we're headed."
E.J. Speed Eyeing Bigger Role
Third-year linebacker E.J. Speed made a number of splash plays during the first week and a half of training camp while playing the Will linebacker spot with Darius Leonard (ankle) out. His athleticism and coverage instincts shined with a number of pass break-ups and screen blow-ups; Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus said the 2019 fifth round pick is having the "biggest growth" of his career during training camp.
Now that Leonard's back at Will, Speed said his goal is to be the Colts' starting Sam linebacker.
"When the opportunity came I knew it was time to step up," Speed said "I've been knowing that but it really hit at this point because with Anthony Walker leaving, big shoes to fill. All summer I worked at it and stayed consistent with everything I'm doing, and the time came and I'm going to excel at it."
But Speed knows, too, that the strong practices he stacked in Leonard's place will only help him continue to carve out a role on the Colts' defense going forward.
"I think it's mandatory in our defense that most of our linebackers know multiple positions," Speed said. "So with me knowing two positions, I fit right in. I've played Sam since I got here and Will. It's not that much of a difference."
- The threat of inclement weather moved Wednesday's one-hour, non-padded practice indoors at Grand Park. Reich said it was mostly a "prep day" for the team ahead of Thursday and Friday's joint practices with the Carolina Panthers.
- Defensive end Kwity Paye left practice with an ankle injury.
- Quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger and Jacob Eason split first-team reps in seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 work, as expected.
- Quarterback Carson Wentz (foot) was intently working with the Colts' wide receivers during individual drills, while left guard Quenton Nelson (foot) was present and engaged, too.
- Linebackers Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke both notched interceptions in 11-on-11 periods.
- Eason hit wide receiver Parris Campbell for a touchdown in 11 on 11 red zone work.
- Cornerback T.J. Carrie had an impressive pass break-up in the end zone.
- The final play of practice saw another highlight from wide receiver Mike Strachan, who hauled in a one-handed touchdown from quarterback Brett Hundley.
They said it
"It's awesome. It's great, I think, for everybody — for the city, for the coaching staff and for the players, it's just the continuity of what Frank and Chris and Mr. Irsay have built here to be able to keep it going with the culture they have set here that everybody wants to be a part of." — Offensive coordinator Marcus Brady on Frank Reich and Chris Ballard's contract extensions through the 2026 season