INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich could have nixed a brief segment from Wednesday’s episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.’’ The team has final say on editorial content.
Viewers never would have seen Quenton Nelson approach his head coach in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After the Indianapolis Colts’ offense had a streak of 26 consecutive drop-backs by quarterback Carson Wentz despite featuring NFL-leading rusher Jonathan Taylor, the All-Pro guard asked Reich if he would dial up a “straight run call’’ on the next series.
“JT’s hungry,’’ Nelson said of Taylor.
“I was glad it showed on ‘Hard Knocks,’’’ Reich said Friday. “They showed it to me beforehand.
“No thoughts of cutting that.’’
The reason? Reich wanted to give the national viewing audience a glimpse into the inner workings of the Colts. Player input during a game is sought, considered and oft-times incorporated into the game.
“I want people to see that,’’ Reich said. “I want people to see our players and the fire and the passion and the conviction.’’
Leaders on the team have been told it’s acceptable, even encouraged, to approach their play-calling coach – offense, defense, special teams – if the situation warrants. That clearly includes Nelson, whose arrival as the 6th overall pick in the 2018 draft coincided with Reich’s first year as head coach.
“It’s been vocalized,’’ Reich said. “I’ve told Quenton – this has been four years of this – ‘Quenton, anytime you feel anything, you come up and talk to me.’ He doesn’t do it a ton, but five or six times a year.
“When I think back over the last four years, about every time he does it, he’s right. It backs up.’’
T.Y. Hilton said Reich’s open-door policy reflects a mutual respect.
Reich recalled an in-game encounter with his veteran wideout a few years ago. The offense was stuck in an unproductive rut and Hilton had had enough.
“We were really struggling on offense, had about three or four series where we were just not doing anything,’’ Reich said. “T.Y. comes up to me on the sideline, and he is hot. Not at me, but he is hot that we’re not (moving the ball). ‘Throw me the ball. I’ll get us going. Throw me the ball, let me give this offense a spark.’
“I love that. I embrace that.’’
Reich was that type of player – “Always in the coach’s ear,’’ he said – during his playing career. Players, he added, can offer an important perspective providing it’s handled correctly.
“The players are out on the field,’’ he said. “As coaches, we know the game plan. We know what we’re doing. This isn’t a ‘Let’s take a vote on what play we are going to run.’
“I want to hear what they feel and what they see out there and that’s going to inform how we’re going to play.’’
For a third straight game, the Colts haven’t ruled out any player for Sunday’s meeting with the Texans in Houston.
There was a bit of uncertainty with DeForest Buckner, who suffered a hyperextended right knee in Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay. But the All-Pro defensive tackle was a full participant in Friday’s practice.
“Thought he looked good,’’ Reich said. “We’ll see how he responds in the next 24 hours.’’
Every player on the active roster was a full participant in Friday’s practice. Buckner (knee/foot), tight end Jack Doyle (knee) and safety Andrew Sendejo (calf) are listed as questionable.
The defense also should receive a boost with the return of Khari Willis. The starting safety has missed the last four games after being placed on the injured reserve list with a calf injury, but returned to practice Wednesday.
“Khari had a good week,’’ Reich said. “We’ll see how he responds in the next 24 hours, but I’m optimistic.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.