INDIANAPOLIS — Reece Fountain is staying prepared.
The talented rookie wide receiver, whose time on the Indianapolis Colts' practice squad is approaching two months now, is confident his big opportunity — the chance to show that he can contribute to the 53-man roster in some way — is coming.
And, until it does, Fountain is going to keep his head down, keep working hard and trying to do the little things that will he knows will ultimately pay dividends down the road.
"I'm patiently waiting and when they are ready I will be called up," Fountain recently told 1070 The Fan's Joe Staysniak. "Whatever is for the best of the team I am going to put my effort behind. We need wins, so if they feel like I am the best person for that I am ready, and if not I am going to keep giving the defense the best look I can."
Fountain was a terror for opposing defenses at the University of Northern Iowa, where he started every game but one from 2015 through 2017 and led the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns all three seasons.
An FCS product, Fountain's workouts were just as impressive as his college game film — so much so that the Colts selected him in the fifth round (159th overall) in this year's NFL Draft.
Since that time, Fountain has experienced the typical highs and lows that simply come with being a rookie in the NFL. As he learned how to adjust to the overall speed of the professional game, Fountain would have solid days during offseason workouts and training camp, and then he'd have days that could be chalked up to learning experiences.
A knee injury suffered just before the start of the preseason certainly didn't help, but Fountain rebounded nicely to haul in four passes for 46 yards (11.5 yards per catch) over the course of the final three preseason games for Indy.
By the time final cuts came along, however, Fountain learned he wasn't going to make the Colts' initial 53-man roster to start the regular season. He was, however, signed to the team's practice squad the next day, where he could continue to develop his game and master his first NFL playbook.
Since that time, Fountain has continued to impress the Colts' coaching staff with not only his growing abilities as a receiver, but his willingness to do whatever's asked of him on that particular day — which, of course, is par for the course when you're on a practice squad.
But as the Colts have experienced some injury issues at the wide receiver position in recent weeks — guys like T.Y. Hilton, Ryan Grant and Marcus Johnson have each missed time or have been placed on injured reserve — the team has counted on Fountain to provide solid reps in practice to help both the Indy offense and its defense prepare for their upcoming opponents.
So when will Fountain get possibly get his chance on the Colts' 53-man roster? That's yet to be seen, but offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Fountain "is showing us that he can do some things — it's just a process."
"I think it just takes time," Sirianni said. "It's a different, different game. And obviously going from the FCS level to the – I know football is still football, but there is still a jump whether it's Division I MAC school, Division I ACC school or FCS. There's still a big jump that these guys have to make. I just think it's a process of continuing to get reps, of Reece continuing to get reps, and feeling more and more comfortable because he is catching our eye."
Accordingly, Fountain is trying to do everything he can to make sure if and when he does get his opportunity, he cashes in on it.
"Making everything harder on yourself is key," Fountain said. "When everyone else has left practice, Steve Ishmael and I make sure that we are getting those extra reps in to prepare ourselves. We practice those traffic catches because there is nothing really like what you are going to see in an actual game. We want to make sure when we get to the games we have already put ourselves through the hardest situations that we might get so it can be easier once we get into the game."
Taking that approach day after day might be taxing for some, especially when you see the team bringing in other players from the outside at your position, like a Dontrelle Inman, who the Colts signed as a free agent to start opposite of Hilton once Johnson went on IR with an ankle injury last week.
But Fountain has made sure to make himself available to all the new additions to the roster — active roster, practice squad, whatever they may be — in order to help ensure everyone is up to speed.
"I am always going to welcome a new guy with open arms and do whatever I can to help him prepare for Sunday," Fountain said. "I am going to do whatever I can to help us win so if that is assisting another receiver and making sure he is ready to play that is what I am going to do."
Make no mistake, though: Fountain is ready to flourish when his time comes.
He'll continue to keep his head down and stay prepared for that moment.
"I would easily be ready to step in if my number was called," Fountain said. "It would be easy if they called me up today and had to play tomorrow."