Confident Fountain enjoys competition

Heather Bremer | CNHI Sports IndianaColts wide receiver Reece Fountain gets a jump off the line during drills at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Reece Fountain understands the enormous challenge at hand.

He can look around the Indianapolis Colts' wide receiver room and see more young, hungry talent than available roster spots. And he certainly can feel the heat of competition every day on the practice field.

But it's a welcome pressure.

Fountain has become close friends with fellow 2018 draft pick Deon Cain, and the position group as a whole is having fun with the training camp competition.

"Obviously, it's a lot of great talent in the receiving room," Fountain said. "There's no doubt about that. But, one thing that's really special about this group, we push each other. We're rooting for each other. And we actually want each other to compete."

Cain and Fountain have been known to place a friendly wager on each practice, with the loser buying Chick-Fil-A or some other similar penalty.

And the battles are similarly chummy with other receivers in the mix for the final few roster spots including Marcus Johnson and Krishawn Hogan.

Johnson, who had six catches for 102 yards and a touchdown in five games with the Colts last year, is the only player in the quartet with any kind of significant regular-season experience. He's also the oldest of the group at the ripe age of 25.

"We're all pushing each other to just be the best player that we can be," Fountain said. "'Cause at the end of the day, we all want to be successful."

If the terms of the bets remain consistent, it's unlikely Fountain has had to buy much fast food lately.

Ever since he caught a touchdown pass from Phillip Walker to end practice on Aug. 1, Fountain has been on a steady upward climb. He peaked in Thursday's exhibition opener with five catches for a team-high 63 yards.

It's more evidence of the increasing confidence for the former Northern Iowa star, who was called up to the active roster for the first time last December and was in uniform for both playoff games.

"Everyone thinks NFL players, they've all got confidence," Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said. "But there's something about making big plays in games, and he did it last year a lot in practice. To carry that over this year in camp and have it happen in a game is a good step. But now the key is, hey, that's great. It's one game. We've gotta keep doing that day in and day out."

Fountain realizes there are no days off in this competition.

As far as he's come in the past 10 days, it could still be an uphill battle for a roster spot. T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess have done nothing to suggest they won't be the starters, and rookie Parris Campbell looked extremely good before a hamstring injury sidelined him around the time Fountain began rising.

Veteran Chester Rogers has proven himself as an efficient option in the slot, and he and Zach Pascal have more experience on special teams -- a major determining factor in the final evaluation -- than Fountain.

When the music stops on this game of musical chairs, the few available seats are going to fill up quickly.

All Fountain can do is continue to put out the kind of tape he's been producing for more than a week.

"I've literally just been being my same self," Fountain said. "I come out here, work hard every day just trying to be consistent, staying in the playbook, just keeping my body right. But I've just been coming out here just literally just trying to compete. At the end of the day, that's what all of us are doing. We're trying to compete for a job."

He's more comfortable than he was as a rookie. His head no longer spins before each practice, and he's thinking less and reacting more naturally on the field.

Fountain also has been serious about maintaining his health. He was placed on the non-football injury list just prior to training camp but hasn't missed a day of practice.

In fact, he's been in the training staff's ears so often he suspects he's become something of a nuisance.

It's all in the name of opportunity. Fountain didn't feel like he took full advantage of his a year ago.

He has no intention of repeating that mistake.

And his performance against the Bills suggests he's off to the right start.

"It was really big just to go against a different team and just see how you stand up against different competition," Fountain said. "But it was really fun, man. One of the things our coach told us before we went out to Buffalo is, 'Not only are you displaying your talents for our team, you're doing it for the rest of the NFL teams.'

"Just to go out there and just display my talents and just show not only the Colts but the world that I can play in this league."

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