By The Sports Xchange – UPI
INDIANAPOLIS — After meeting with the media on Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard and newly-hired head coach Frank Reich tried to give the media, and fans, a clearer glimpse of their immediate plans for the franchise.
First of all, both Ballard and Reich fully expect quarterback Andrew Luck to be ready for the start of offseason conditioning work on April 2.
Yes, the quarterback is making progress as he continues his rehab process in Los Angeles. No, Luck has yet to throw a football during his most recent rehab program. And, no, Luck isn’t getting any more medical procedures on his right shoulder.
“We’ve ruled out surgery,” Ballard said. “Remember, he played for two years banged up. Going a year without that (throwing) motion every day takes time. I believe in the kid and he’s going to do some good things going forward.”
In looking back at the 2017 season, the Colts general manager admitted that there were times when the team was waiting for someone to step up and make a play.
“(They) were just waiting for this savior to ride in on a white horse and save the day,” Ballard said. “But the guys really played hard. I was proud of how hard they played and how hard they fought.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming draft, the Colts say all options are on the table. And that includes maybe even taking a quarterback.
Ballard admitted that finding a pass rusher in the draft is one of several areas that are crucial.
“People don’t let (veteran elite pass rushers) out of the building; they just don’t,” he said.
Wide receiver will be another area that Indianapolis will probably look to fortify through the draft.
Any particular type of receiver on the Colts’ radar?
“Yeah, ones that get open,” Ballard joked.
Reich said that with the offense he plans to install with the Colts, it works equally well with bigger, physical receivers or smaller, quicker receivers.
He has looked at some tape of last year’s team in order to better familiarize himself with the players, but that the assistant coaches have been breaking down game tape with an emphasis on each position.
Ballard said that he and his scouting staff had meetings with Reich and his coaching staff earlier this week in order to get a better feel for what is needed with the team’s new multiple offense and 4-3 Cover 2 defense.
–For the present time, Indianapolis won’t have a quarterbacks coach. Reich said Wednesday at the Combine that he believes that for at least the upcoming season, the duties of quarterbacks coach will be split between himself, offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni and assistant quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady. He added that he was impressed with Sirianni when they both were members of the San Diego Chargers coaching staff.
“I always thought that if I ever got this chance (to be a head coach), Nick would be my offensive coordinator,” the Colts coach said.
—Kicker Adam Vinatieri, who was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent before re-signing, admitted that contract negotiations with Colts general manager Chris Ballard went a bit smoother than his last go around with former general manager Ryan Grigson.
Ballard, who had told the veteran kicker after last season that Indianapolis wanted him back for 2018, referred to Vinatieri as “one of the best players in NFL history … a consummate pro and a key leader in our locker room.”
Vinatieri liked what he heard.
“It made me want that much more to come back and play for the Colts knowing we were moving in the right direction,” he said.
Another reason Vinatieri opted to return to the Colts for at least one more season was the hiring of Bubba Ventrone as the team’s special teams coordinator. The two have a history together as teammates in New England.
“I played with him in New England. I’ve watched his career. I’ve seen the last few years of his special teams coaching in New England (where Ventrone was the Patriots’ assistant special teams coach),” the kicker said. “I think we’re in great hands.”