- A little pop quiz for his players revealed that some were still getting to know their head coach—especially his role in NFL history
WHO: Indianapolis Colts
WHERE: Westfield, Indiana
WHEN: Tuesday, July 31
HOW: Drove from Cleveland (with a pit stop at Albert Breer’s alma mater THE Ohio State University)
Frank Reich is a humble head coach. He’s conversational and prefers to involve his players and get their input and feedback rather than just telling everyone what to do. He doesn’t like to talk about himself much. Players say the man whom Bill Polian once called “the greatest backup quarterback in NFL history” hasn’t told the team anything about his 14-year career as a player, where he backed up Jim Kelly, went to four Super Bowls with the Bills and played in two of those games. “I bet there are actually a good handful of guys on this team who have no idea that Frank played quarterback or was in Super Bowls or any of that,” says veteran left tackle Anthony Costanzo.
To test out Constanzo’s theory, The MMQB asked five Colts players the following trivia question to see how well they know their new head coach: Which quarterback led the largest comeback in NFL history?
Jack Doyle, 28-year old tight end, and Costanzo, 29, didn’t miss a beat and immediately spit out the correct answer.
Cornerback Chris Milton, 25, was almost stumped, and took a minute to think it through out loud. “Ummm... was it the snow game?” he said, gazing up towards the ceiling. “Yes, in Buffalo versus … Frank Reich! It was Reich! That’s exactly who it was, my coach!” (There was no snow that day, but hey.)
“My coach,” said 21-year-old fourth-round pick Nyheim Hines, who admitted that because he was born three years after Reich set that record, he only knew of it because his agent told him on draft day. “I asked more about Reich, because I didn’t know that Indianapolis had hired him at the time,” said Hines. “My agent was like, Dude, Frank Reich! He told me the whole story.”
Fifth-round pick Reece Fountain, 22, was the only one out of the five to guess wrong. After pausing to think, he said, “Gosh … I’m young. So I am gonna go with Tom Brady versus the Falcons in Super Bowl 51.”
Fountain was visibly shocked when told the correct answer was his head coach, who started in place of an injured Jim Kelly in the Bills’ 1993 AFC wild-card game and rallied Buffalo from a 32-point deficit to beat the Oilers in overtime.
“For real?” he asked. “Oh wow, I didn’t even know that! 32 points? Wow, that’s crazy.”
Reich, on learning about the day’s trivia question, laughed and said, “I’m too old now for any of them to know about that.”
Bonus trivia: Until 2006, Reich also held the college record for largest comeback. As the backup for Maryland in 1984, he replaced starter Stan Gelbaugh and led the Terrapins back from a first-half deficit of 31–0 to a 42–40 victory over previously undefeated Miami.
OH, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT: The Colts (like a lot of other teams in training camp) are ecstatic with the potential of their draft class. And they believe the windfall they got in dealing down three spots in the Top 6 has produced a handful of guys (Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, Braden Smith, Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis) who should fortify the team inside the tackle box, on both sides of the ball. But there are sleepers too, and two late skill-position picks have coaches and scouts buzzing—fifth-round RB Jordan Wilkins and sixth-round WR Deon Cain. And fourth-rounder Nyheim Hines looks like he’ll have a role on special teams (and maybe a slash role on offense, like Corey Clement had in Philly last year for Frank Reich) right away. —Albert Breer
STORYLINE TO WATCH: Andrew Luck’s comeback. Much has been made of Luck’s long-awaited return from a shoulder injury after missing the entirety of the 2017 season. Just throwing a college-sized football in OTAs was enough to create a media circus around the Colts quarterback. Luck has been improving each day, and Costanzo says he’s noticed a huge jump since day one of camp. “From day one to probably day three, how much he just got comfortable it was good to see,” he says. “He looks like his old self.”
Luck is moving well in the pocket, stepping up and stepping back fluidly. He seems to be getting back into his groove, finding familiar targets like Doyle. Costanzo has noticed Luck is relaxed and happy now that’s he back on the field. “He has a smile on his face and is always chatting it up,” he says. “When he wasn’t playing he always had something else that he had to focus on. So now he’s back to being one of the guys, enjoying being out here and enjoying everyone’s company.”
Colts fans hold their breath. It’s been so long since they last saw Luck in action. Is this comeback the real deal? “He looks comfortable out there,” Costanzo says. “We’ll see.”
TOP POSITION BATTLE: Linebackers. This is Indy’s most wide-open position group. Second-year linebacker Anthony Walker was the leader in the clubhouse for the Mike role, but he suffered a groin injury on Sunday, and Reich said he’ll miss a few weeks. Second-round draft pick Darius Leonard has had a great camp so far. The Colts also drafted two more linebackers, Matthew Adams and Zaire Franklin, in the seventh round and picked up free agents Najee Goode and Tyrell Adams.
OFFBEAT OBSERVATION: Colts 2018 first round pick Quenton Nelson had a big fan in Costanzo. The rookie guard played his college career at Notre Dame. Costanzo and guard Jack Mewhort roomed together for road games for the past couple years and frequently watched Notre Dame’s games in their hotel room, specifically to watch Nelson and his teammate Mike McGlinchey. “We liked to watch Quenton there on the left side, because you see a lot of good stuff,” Costanzo says. “I knew a lot about him because I have watched him play, so when we drafted him I was very excited because I knew what he was capable of.”
When Costanzo confessed to the rookie that he was a bit of a super fan, Nelson asked him which games he’d watched. “He knew exactly which were his worst games,” Costanzo says. “I was like no, I really didn’t see you struggling much.”
PARTING THOUGHTS: The Colts used to hold training camp at Anderson University. Last year they stayed home and held camp at their facility, but this year, they're utilizing a massive youth sports complex as their training camp base. Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., is a 400-acre sports complex that features 24 multipurpose fields for football, soccer and lacrosse and more than 26 baseball diamonds. And it's still under construction (a hockey rink is coming soon.) From the media center, we took a golf cart to the indoor facility because it was too far to walk through the sprawling campus. Driving through the sports park, it felt like the place could host the whole AFC South. To put in perspective how large 400 acres is, the park could hold the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indianapolis Zoo, with room to spare.
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