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Colts players praise former coach Frank Reich ahead of Sunday’s game

Head coach Frank Reich of the Indianapolis Colts is seen before a preseason game against the Chicago Bears at Lucas Oil Stadium on Aug. 24, 2019, in Indianapolis. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — On Sunday, the 3-4 Indianapolis Colts head to Charlotte to play the 1-6 Carolina Panthers.

The head coach of the Panthers? None other than former Colts coach Frank Reich, who led Indy to a 49-39-1 overall record during his five-year tenure with the Horseshoe.

Many of the current players on the Colts roster played for Reich in Indy, who coached the Colts from 2018-2022.

All-Pro center Ryan Kelly is the longest-tenured Colt on the team, playing before, during, and after the Reich regime.

“I love Frank,” Kelly said. “He really helped me out and was a good mentor there when I was going through some tough times myself. He’s a great man, a man of faith, which I really respected. A great family guy. The amount of stuff he did for the community here was really impressive, and every player you ask talks about him like that.”

Colts All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor was drafted by Reich in 2020, and he talked with News 8 sports director Anthony Calhoun about what he appreciated most during his time with Reich.

“How he connected with each one of his players,” Taylor said. “He would sit down with you and find out about your family, your background, what makes you go, what makes you tick.”

Meanwhile, linebacker Zaire Franklin was picked in the seventh round by Reich in 2018.

“He was always someone that I could lean on,” Franklin said. “He always believed in me when I was going through the different challenges on the field. He’s the coach that drafted me. We went through the highs and lows together.”

Franklin, like so many of the other players, acknowledged that he is the opposing head coach this week, so the Colts are treating it like a normal game.

“Obviously, a bunch of love and respect with Frank, but he is on the other side now,” Franklin said with a smile. “He coaches the offense, I play defense. I know him and I know what he is saying about me in that team meeting room, and I just hope they are ready.”

Even Colts head coach Shane Steichen had glowing praises for his counterpart on Sunday.

Steichen spent two years with Reich in San Diego on the Chargers’ offensive staff, from 2014-2015.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for Frank,” Steichen said. “[He’s a] very intelligent football coach, understands the game, but an even better human being. The two years I was with him out in San Diego, the wisdom he brought being a former player, his leadership abilities. I’ve got a ton of respect for him and I’m looking forward to seeing him on Sunday.”

The Colts will play the Panthers at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday. News 8 sports director Anthony Calhoun will be LIVE from Charlotte with Colts coverage all Sunday long.

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