Colts GM Chris Ballard is unequivocally a supporter of the COVID vaccine. He, like HC Frank Reich are both fully vaccinated. Reich still tested positive for COVID, but hasn’t shown any symptoms.
“It’s a shame in our country right now, we’ve politicized something that is good and that will help the entire country. But it’s where we’re at,” Ballard said via IndyStar. “Frank’s a great example — no symptoms. You want to get vaccinated because you’re not going to die, you’re not going to end up on a ventilator in the hospital. That’s why you want to get vaccinated. (And) it reduces the chances of spreading it.”
Ballard alluded to the team also having some form of identification to distinguish between players who are, and are not vaccinated, like the Steelers. Ballard says they’re not meant to be used as a punishment, but as a tool in order to keep the team safe.
“There’s time I wonder why our country doesn’t have consequences for not being vaccinated to keep other people safe,” he said.
Ballard noted that with 53 guys on a team, there will be different opinions and schools of thought, as long as the players adhere to NFL guidelines. Ballard made sure to emphasize that he wouldn’t allow the vaccine to cause division within the locker room.
“We have a tremendous group of men,” Ballard said. “They want to win. I don’t want anyone to walk away here and think, well, ‘These guys don’t want to win.’ That’s the furthest thing from the truth. The (unvaccinated players) will follow the protocols. They did a hell of a job last year following the protocols, and they’ll do it again this year.”
The Colts recently conducted a team meeting allowing everyone to speak their mind about the issue, Ballard called the chat open, productive and respectful.
“We have leaders who are vaccinated, and we have other leaders who are not vaccinated,” Ballard said. “I think at the end of the day, they’re going to do, in their hearts, what they think is best. And if they’re unvaccinated, they’re going to protect their teammates. I fully believe that because I watched it happen last year. I watched an entire locker room have to go through an entire season protecting each other. We’ll do it again.”
“Absolutely, me and Deshaun are friends,” said Taylor, via Aaron Wilson. “We’ve known each other for a number of years now. We’ve had good conversations on the field and off the field about football and about life, about everything. Everything has been a positive conversation.”
Taylor called himself a “natural leader” and thinks he has a “wonderful opportunity” on Houston.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Taylor said. “Every time I get a chance to lace up cleats and play the game I started playing when I was 5 years old is a blessing. I don’t take any day for granted. I’m excited to be able to go out and lead the group and continue to make plays. It’s a joy for me to go out on the field and compete.”
Texans DE Whitney Mercilus confirmed that Watson has not been a distraction at camp.
“Deshaun, that’s my guy, love him to death,” Mercilus said. “Hate what’s happening to him and praying for him every day, honestly. Everything will sort itself out. God got it, I know that for a fact.”
- Texans HC David Culley said OT Marcus Cannon and G Lane Taylor are both “making progress” from their knee injuries and on track with their rehabs. (Aaron Wilson)
Titans’ RB Derrick Henry isn’t focused on anything other than continuing to improve for the Titans next season and is happy to finally be back on the field with his team.
“I am focusing on getting better each and every day, coming out here competing, leading,” Henry said, via Jim Wyatt of TennesseeTitans.com. “Just doing all the things I can do to help this team and to get ready for the season. But it starts out here in the film room, in meetings, and it translates onto the field to get better. I don’t get caught up in [other stuff]. I just focus on me getting better. I want to get better every day, put in the work, and compete. I am excited football is back, and I’m happy to be back with my teammates, back with my team.”
- The Titans hired James Wilhoite as an assistant kicking coach. (Terry McCormick)