INDIANAPOLIS – Eric Ebron always has been good at making himself heard.
The Indianapolis Colts tight end often is the loudest voice in the locker room whether he’s laughing it up with friends, trash talking a teammate or holding court with the media.
So, when he has an issue with the way things are unfolding on the field, it should come as no surprise Ebron doesn’t hesitate to ensure his voice is part of the conversation.
Head coach Frank Reich has an open-door policy for players, and Ebron said he kicked it in.
“You want to be that player the team wants you to be, and you want to be that player that you know you are,” he said Thursday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “It’s only right if your coaches are going to hear you, and he has that respect level for you. You approach him with that same level of respect at how you can help your team. I think me and Frank had a great conversation, and we’ll pick it up.”
Ebron’s production is down across the board through the first half of the season.
He’s been targeted 31 times and has 18 catches for 248 yards and three touchdowns. During his career year last season, Ebron was targeted 110 times and had 66 catches for 750 yards and 13 scores.
But the 26-year-old swears his gripe is not about the numbers. Or at least not the ones that might most easily come to mind.
He’s played more than 50 percent of the offensive snaps just once this season, on Sept. 22 against the Atlanta Falcons. And he’s been on the field for just 34 percent of all offensive plays in each of the past two weeks.
Ebron makes the case his presence on the sideline isn’t just hurting his production. It’s hurting the team.
“Did you see the Pittsburgh Steelers game?,” he asked rhetorically. “I played three plays, maybe. You see what I did? Go watch it.
“Jack (Doyle) scores, I take a safety out (of the play). Chester (Rogers) scores, they double team me for no reason. They even communicated not to, but that’s just who I am. It’s not a thing. I’m just very much hard to guard.”
Ebron’s tale includes a bit of embellishment. He played 24 offensive snaps against the Steelers and had two catches for 16 yards.
But he’s not fabricating the impact he has on opposing defenses. That’s a factor even more precious to Indianapolis with top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton sidelined because of a calf injury.
But there are many factors that have gone into Ebron’s more limited role. A healthy Doyle naturally takes away some snaps because of his excellence as a blocker in the running game, and the retirement of Andrew Luck two weeks before the start of the regular season necessitated some changes in the offense.
Jacoby Brissett is less likely to push the ball down field than Luck was, and that’s one of the strengths of Ebron’s game.
To be clear, the tight end is making no demands.
As always, he’s just making sure his voice is heard.
“I preach it, ‘Put your boy in the game, good things are gonna happen. You know?,’” Ebron said. “We’ve had our series of talks. This organization is really good when it comes to hearing their players and understanding those players and working with them. Hopefully, things change and we get off to a better start (Sunday against Miami).”
RESPECT FOR FREENEY
Defensive end Justin Houston had his first chance to meet legendary Colts pass rusher Dwight Freeney this summer during training camp. But the long-time Kansas City Chiefs star has long admired Freeney from afar.
Particularly one trademark aspect of the defensive end’s game.
“I think he’s a great rusher, one of the greatest of all time, especially his spin move and his bull (rush),” Houston said. “You couldn’t tell when it was coming. He’s an amazing guy, amazing player. I know a lot of guys try to do the spin move like him, but it’s hard to copy that because he had it. He did it like no other. He was very special when it came to rushing the passer.”
Freeney will be inducted into the Colts’ Ring of Honor during halftime of Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
After being a limited participant Wednesday, cornerback Pierre Desir (hamstring) did not participate in Thursday’s practice. He’s missed the last two games because of the injury and could be in line to miss a third.
Wide receivers Hilton (calf) and Parris Campbell (hand) also did not practice for a second straight day. They were joined on the sideline by cornerback Quincy Wilson (shoulder).
Brissett (knee) and center Ryan Kelly (burner) were limited participants.
Safety Malik Hooker (knee) returned to full participation after missing Wednesday’s practice.