In meeting reporters Wednesday at the NFL Combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center – his second time with reporters since taking over for the fired Ryan Grigson – Ballard was personable, upbeat and optimistic.
He has a plan. He has some goals.
He did not distribute a written outline.
“We all want instant coffee right now,” Ballard said of taking over the Colts after consecutive 8-8 seasons. “That’s not reality. It takes time to build a team, time to build a locker room. Guys have to grow together and come together. I don’t know any championship team that didn’t have a great locker room and grow together. It’s hard to throw people into a locker room and expect a winner. It doesn’t work that way.”
Ballard appears to have three tracks right now – assessing the Colts’ pending free agents (such as tight end Jack Doyle and defensive backs Darius Butler and Mike Adams), assessing potential free-agent signings and overseeing the upcoming NFL Draft.
This being the Combine, the draft takes center stage.
Ballard said he believes the draft is full of talented players, both defensively and offensively.
“We’ll vet every player, A to Z on every player,” Ballard said. “I tell our scouts here, ‘Ignore the noise. Let’s make our own opinion of people. That’s why they pay us to do what we do.’ Go meet the family, go A to Z. Kids make mistakes. They’re young kids growing up and they make mistakes. It’s our job to figure out guys we’re willing to take a chance on.”
Ballard said he had a conversation with defensive lineman David Parry, who was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of robbery, auto theft, criminal damage, resisting arrest and driving under the influence in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Colts are still looking into the details, Ballard said, and he declined to share anything about the conversation with Parry.
Likewise, Ballard refrained from talking about recent conversations with Luck about his return to the playing field, and when it will happen.
Everyone knows the importance of Luck to the Colts, Ballard said.
“He’s a great human being, as you all know,” Ballard said. “The Indianapolis Colts are very fortunate to have him. He’s rehabbing and doing everything the doctors tell him. We’re strictly going on doctor’s orders. Every day I’ve been in the building he’s been there, doing what needs to be done. The best thing for Andrew is to follow doctor’s orders. When he’s ready to go he’s ready to go.”
Ballard was asked if Luck will be ready by training camp.
“No timeline,” Ballard said.
It’s also a wait-and-see game on whether the Colts will bring back free agents, such as Doyle, or players who seem to be in limbo, such as defensive lineman Art Jones.
Ballard did share why he chose to make a quick decision to release linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.
“He was an outstanding Indianapolis Colt, a heck of a pro,” Ballard said. “I made the decision quickly because he was coming into the office and I didn’t want to meet him and call him two months later. I wanted to look D’Qwell Jackson in the eye and pay him the respect he deserved and give him another opportunity to play somewhere. As for the rest of the roster we have a plan going forward. We’re having internal discussions and we’ll work that plan going forward.”
Ballard said he has developed a strong early relationship with coach Chuck Pagano and his staff, and that they’ve had hard conversations about players and their talents on the current roster.
They’ll work the plan from there.
It’s a private plan. You’d have to work for the Colts to get any more details.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Reggie Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.