The Indianapolis Colts are returning to their West 56th Street complex today to begin their eight-week offseason program, but there will be a different feel surrounding the wide receiver position for the Colts this year.
Star veteran wideout Reggie Wayne is gone, as the Colts opted to move on from him in free agency earlier this offseason. Wayne is still contemplating his options and would ideally like to play another season in the NFL, but it won't be for the Colts, and that will be a weird feeling around the team. For the first time since before the 2001 season, Reggie Wayne won't be a member of the Indianapolis Colts. And for the first time since before the 1996 season, neither Marvin Harrison nor Reggie Wayne will be a member of the team.
The Colts have a young star receiver to take their place on the field, however, in T.Y. Hilton. But in 2015, he'll be taking on a much bigger role than just being the number one wideout for Andrew Luck's prolific passing offense - he'll also be taking on a more significant leadership role. He told Colts.com's Kevin Bowen that he has "no choice" but to assume a leadership role now that Wayne, a mentor and close friend who is like a brother to Hilton, is gone (and Hilton said that he talked with Wayne as recently as yesterday).
Believe it or not, the only wide receivers on the roster with more experience than T.Y. Hilton are Andre Johnson and Vincent Brown - both of whom were signed this offseason. And considering that Brown will be fighting just for a roster spot while Hilton is coming off of a Pro Bowl season and is unquestionably the team's number one receiver, he has a natural leadership role there waiting for him. It sounds like he plans on stepping up into it, which is good news for some of the younger receivers on the Colts' roster, such as Donte Moncrief and Duron Carter.
Another player who will be taking on a bigger leadership role in 2015 is safety Mike Adams. With the departure of Reggie Wayne and Cory Redding in free agency, Adams knows that there is a void there and he's looking to help fill it. The safety told Kevin Bowen that, "I showed leadership (in 2014), but this year I want to step it up a notch."
For the Colts in 2015, it will be different, as they will be missing some of their top leaders as guys like Wayne and Redding are no longer with the team. But with other guys like T.Y. Hilton and Mike Adams looking to take their place, as well as a solid group of leaders still with the team and guys like Andre Johnson and Frank Gore added to the mix, there doesn't look to be a shortage of leaders for the 2015 Colts - and that's a good thing.