One of the big points of discussion after the Colts’ horrendous 30-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday was the punt return game, which was a mess.
The Colts sent T.Y. Hilton out there, and though he’s a good return man the Colts have been very reluctant to use him since he became their top wide receiver. Then Hilton got hurt, and they sent back Josh Ferguson. The undrafted rookie muffed that return, so the Colts then turned to Phillip Dorsett, though he didn’t do much better. By the end, they felt better putting an injured T.Y. Hilton back there to return punts than anyone else - which should tell you quite a bit.
Of course, the Colts’ punt return problems stemmed primarily from injuries, as they lost Quan Bray to a season-ending injury and then were without Chester Rogers last week. Rogers had a rough game in the area against the Titans, but Chuck Pagano made it clear: Chester Rogers is the team’s return man when he’s healthy.
“We get Chester back,” Pagano said yesterday regarding the punt returner spot. “He’ll be back at practice today [Wednesday] so we’ll continue to work with him and work with the other guys. Work with Phil [Dorsett], work with Fergie [Josh Ferguson], we’ve got T.Y. [Hilton] if we need to put T.Y. back there so we’ll just continue to work with those guys.”
Asked if Rogers is the guy, Pagano responded, “yeah.”
That is, of course, if he’s healthy enough to play this week, and it’s still not a perfect solution. Rogers misplayed two punts against the Titans and fielded them when he should not have deep in their own territory, putting the Colts in a bad spot. But here’s the thing: those mistakes are easily fixable. This isn’t a case of a guy’s talent getting in the way, it’s a case of a guy’s inexperience getting in the way. Hopefully, the Colts coaches have worked with him to know when not to field the ball (which seems like common sense but maybe not with this coaching staff), in which case Rogers can probably be a solid return option. So it’s perfectly fine for the Colts to go back to Rogers, as long as they do so while trying to correct some easily fixable errors.
One thing is for sure, though: until the Colts prove they’re capable of not screwing it all up, the punt return spot will continue to be a point of discussion and an adventure for this team.