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T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett must step up for Colts in passing game with Donte Moncrief out

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NFL: Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts will be without one of their top receivers for the foreseeable future, as it was revealed yesterday that Donte Moncrief will miss 4-6 weeks with a fractured scapula.

That leaves a noticeable void in the Colts’ passing game, as Moncrief was a huge part of what Indy does offensively and is a versatile and reliable playmaker. The Colts will now need to figure out a way to play without him for the next month, and that puts the pressure on T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett to step up.

The Colts do have three other depth receivers in Chester Rogers, Quan Bray, and Devin Street that they can use, as well as tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle and running backs Frank Gore and Josh Ferguson to use in the passing game too. They’ll miss Moncrief, but they need to figure out a way to move on and still be productive.

“It’s a skillset that we will miss,” head coach Chuck Pagano said yesterday about losing Moncrief. “Again, it’s next man up. I hate to be redundant and cliché, but it’s next man up. Thank God we have 13 [T.Y. Hilton] and thank God we have 15 [Phillip Dorsett]. You have Chester Rogers who was up last week and you saw that kid in the preseason. Quan Bray. You’ve got playmakers. We brought in another guy in [Devin] Street that is another big-bodied guy that as fast as he can get up to speed, whether he is available or not [this Sunday], time will tell. Other guys have to step up. Tight ends are making plays. It is what it is. We will deal with it.”

“[We lose] A phenomenal football player,” quarterback Andrew Luck agreed. “That’s no secret. He is big, he is a playmaker and he can stretch the field. He does a lot of wonderful things, including in the run game where he goes in there and digs out safeties. But it’s football and we will move on and we know he will be back better than ever and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”

It’s also no secret that the guys who will be counted on the most to replace Moncrief are T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett, however. Hilton is the team’s number one receiver and has posted three-straight 1,000-yard seasons (as well as two straight Pro Bowl appearances). Hilton was disappointed to hear about Moncrief’s injury, but he had a message for his fellow wideout: he’ll step up in Moncrief’s absence.

“It was hard,” Hilton said. “That’s my little brother. Next door neighbor. It was hard, but we talked. He texted me as soon as he found out. I told him, ‘Don’t worry, I got you.’”

Hilton also has added motivation in the sense that he really hasn’t made the impact he’d like to on the Colts’ offense yet this year. He’s still caught ten passes for 120 yards, but he knows he needs to be a game-changer.

“For me, it’s more personal this week,” Hilton said. “We’re 0-2, I haven’t made plays, haven’t had my game-changing performance yet so this week I look forward to it.”

According to FOX59’s Mike Chappell, Hilton also took it a step further: he guaranteed he’ll produce.

“I’ve just got to make plays for my team,’’ Hilton said. “We’re 0-2 and we can’t go down 0-3. I have to make plays. I guarantee I’ll make plays.’’

Phillip Dorsett is also ready to step up into a larger role than he’s had since entering the NFL: the Colts’ number two wide receiver, starting alongside T.Y. Hilton. Dorsett has made some plays this year - he’s caught only five passes but has 124 yards, having caught three passes of 30+ yards - but he’ll now step into a bigger role. Chuck Pagano is confident he can handle it.

“The plays that he has made to this point [show he’s ready to step up],” Pagano said. “He is gaining confidence, he is making big plays down the field and he is playing fast. He is not thinking, the game is slowing down for him and he is speeding up. You are starting to see and feel his presence out there. It’s next man up with another guy down. Him having the success that he has had as far as making the big plays down the field is obviously going to help us.”

Dorsett’s quarterback also has a lot of confidence in him.

“He is a stud,” Andrew Luck said. “He is obviously very fast but he goes up and competes for the ball, he makes big catches. I think he is just getting better and better and better and I have a lot of confidence in him.”

For the next 4-6 weeks, the Colts’ offense will be without one of their top playmakers in Donte Moncrief, but T.Y. Hilton and Phillip Dorsett are ready to step up. It’s not an ideal situation, but the Colts have confidence in their guys being able to fill in for Moncrief until he returns.