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Carolina Panthers

Notebook: Reunion week for Frank Reich, the Colts, and their coaches

Frank Reich

CHARLOTTE — It's something considerably less than a revenge game for Panthers head coach Frank Reich, not that he's going to spend much time focusing on the Colts as anything other than the next opponent.

He has too much else to do, and he's also old enough to know that if you work in football, you're eventually going to move on, saying he wasn't going to let it become "a personal thing."

Reich's past in Indianapolis is a hot topic this week since the Colts fired him after nine games last season, with a 40-33 record.

Asked what kind of emotions he left with after his five seasons, Reich replied: "Positive emotions."

"You know, there's always a disappointment about moving on, just like anybody who moves on in a job, but a lot of great relationships," he said. "But for me, this is very common in this league. I've been in this league for 30 years. Players and coaches, you move on. You have a new family, you love the people you just left, you respect them, you move on, and you're focused on the next chapter in your life and your career. And so that's the position we're at."

Of course, his own employment with the Colts is only part of the interconnectedness of the week.

When he was offensive coordinator with the Chargers in 2014 and 2015, his quality control coach was a young Shane Steichen, now the Colts head coach. (Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was the quarterbacks coach on that staff).

"I mean, Shane's a phenomenal coach and a great human being, a great person," Reich said. "Yeah, I think back in San Diego when I was there as the offensive coordinator, it was me and Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen sitting in those meetings, game planning, and a lot of stuff. So, obviously, that was a pretty dynamic group. You could tell right away both of those guys. I knew Nick right away, and same thing with Shane; those super-bright, super-brilliant football minds, hard workers, understand every aspect of the game.

"And you know, Shane's success is no surprise. I mean, he's been successful at every stop everywhere he's been; he's made a big impact. So super happy for Shane."

Shane Steichen, Gus Bradley

Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley also held that same position on Reich's staff last year, so those two are obviously familiar from an offseason and half a season of game-planning. Reich said he's impressed with the way Bradley has evolved as a defensive play caller, from his Seattle roots through his time as Jaguars head coach and then three other DC stints with the Chargers and Raiders before joining the Colts.

"We got very close in the one year we worked together, sat in his office for many, many hours talking football. There's few guys I respect more than Gus Bradley," he said. "He's a great football coach and a great man, and I think Gus has continued to reinvent himself.

"It's kind of fun that we would sit there and challenge each other, going up against each other every day in practice."

Bryce Young was one of multiple players who attended Monday night's Halloween party for Bradley Bozeman's foundation. And his costume – which he admitted he came up with at the "very last minute" left some people on social media puzzled.

Young dressed up as rapper Nelly from the music video for his hit song "Hot in Herre," which was released in 2002 – the year after Young was born. (The video also featured a cameo from Panthers Hall of Honor defensive end Julius Peppers. [You owe it to yourself to click the link and check that out.])

But Young, who used a flexible bandage from the training room to finish off the early 2000s costume costume, was surprised to hear that the outfit was lost on some of the fanbase.

"I'm not on social media, really," he said. "As a spokesperson for, I guess, for 20-year-old people, I don't feel like that reflects all of us. I like to think – a lot of people when I got there, I got a couple of questions. I think a lot of people got it.

"Like I had the white Forces on, feel like a lot of people got it. . . . Everyone saw the Band-Aid and was like, 'Oh, yeah.'"

Bryce Young

— While Reich said he was "optimistic" about wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.'s availability this week, he admitted he was still very day-to-day. The starting wideout didn't practice Wednesday because of an elbow issue.

He was also on the fence about safety Vonn Bell, who was back in a limited basis after missing the last two games with a quad strain. He said the decision on whether he'd play would likely go right up to game-time.

"We'll see how he responds today. Obviously, he didn't do everything today. So we'll see how he responds tonight; maybe he can do more tomorrow. That's going to be my guess is that's going to be right up to game time with Vonn."

He also said it's going to be "a week or two" before cornerback Jaycee Horn is ready to return, though he's making "great progress."

Brian Burns acknowledged that his elbow was an issue, though he was able to play last week. He practiced wearing a red jersey, and said they were still investigating different brace options.

"It was definitely a problem," Burns said. "You know, with time, it will get better. We'll keep working on that, but it was a problem."

Brian Burns

— The Panthers didn't do anything at yesterday's trade deadline, and since Burns' name was heavy in the rumor-and-speculation corners of the internet, Reich was asked if he was relieved his star pass-rusher and team captain wasn't moved (whether that was a possibility or not).

"Oh yeah, I mean, I am really, really happy that Brian Burns is still here," he said, and that's two reallys if you're keeping count. "That guy, again, I can't say enough about him. He's our leader. He's a great player. He's a leader in every way.

"Super glad that, I mean, we always knew we wanted them here. So glad about that."

While there were some deals made (Washington sold its starting defensive ends, but the deadline brought far more heat than light), Reich said he's learned not to spend much time worrying about it.

"I often feel like going through this trade deadline thing, there's always a lot of chatter," he said. "But as a head coach and being a coach around this league, 90-some percent of the time, nothing ever materializes.

View photos from the Panthers' practice on Wednesday.

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