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DHB Wasn't Benched Thursday Night, But Rough Season Continues

Several people wondered whether Darrius Heyward-Bey had been benched Thursday night when his playing time decreased in the second half, but according to Chuck Pagano it was instead an ankle injury that kept the wide receiver out of the game. Even though he wasn't benched, his rough season continued.

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Last offseason, the Colts let Donnie Avery walk in free agency. Almost every Colts fan loved and supported the move. Last year, Avery did more to hurt the offense than he did to help it, although he put up career-best numbers, catching 60 passes (on 125 targets) for 781 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging 13 yards per catch. He struggled with drops and wasn't great overall, so letting him go in free agency was viewed as a great move that would help the offense improve greatly in the second year with Andrew Luck.

Hold on.

The Colts signed Darrius Heyward-Bey, another underachiever for his career, to replace him. Many people still were positive about the signing and thought, "well certainly it won't be worse than Avery!" For the first few weeks of the season, I still said that. But it became more and more apparent that DHB was not the answer. At training camp I remember Conrad Brunner mentioning to me that DHB might as well be for "Doesn't Hold Balls" because of all of his drops. He really struggled with that in training camp. He hasn't been much better in games and, just like Avery, he has dropped quite a few passes this year. Unlike Avery, however, he hasn't put up numbers either. Through ten games, DHB has just 23 catches (on 49 targets) for 241 yards and 1 touchdown, averaging 10.5 yards per catch. Here's the pace he is on for the season, compared to Avery's numbers from last season:

Donnie Avery (2012) vs. Darrius Heyward-Bey (2013 - projected)
Year Receptions Targets Yards Yards Per Catch TDs First Downs
Donnie Avery 2012 60 125 781 13.0 3 37
Darrius Heyward-Bey 2013 (projected) 36.8 78.4 385.6 10.5 1.6 20.8

An improvement? Absolutely not. The shocking thing is that DHB is averaging just 24.1 yards per game. Just 24.1 yards per game!

Well, on Thursday night it appeared that the Colts were tired of DHB's lack of production too. For the game, he caught just 1 pass for 10 yards on 3 targets, and he dropped as many passes as he caught (one). When the second half began, T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill were the receivers that took the field, not T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey. In the second half, DHB's snaps decreased significantly and many wondered whether the Colts were really beginning to demote him. I would be in favor of that.

Per Chuck Pagano, that wasn't the case. Pagano said on Friday regarding DHB:

"Injury update, DHB (Darrius Heyward-Bey), as we know, suffered an ankle injury. He'll be day-to-day. It's nothing serious. He tried to go in the second half and suck that thing up but he couldn't run the routes efficiently and do the things necessary. We didn't want to risk further damage to the thing and he just couldn't run. He'll be day-to-day."

So apparently it was an injury that kept DHB from seeing much time in the second half, but no one would have blamed the Colts if they would have benched Heyward-Bey. As the season goes on and LaVon Brazill (hopefully) begins to see more opportunities and perhaps even Da'Rick Rogers gets some time, DHB's might decrease. He hasn't done anything to suggest that he keep his spot. Luckily for the Colts, T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener are both stepping up in a big way since Reggie Wayne's injury. Because, well, DHB is not. He's dropping this chance, just like he does too many passes.