There are several positions on the Indianapolis Colts’ roster which will be heavily reliant on players with youth and inexperience. Just one of those is the wide receivers which stand with a base core of T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers and Ryan Grant.
If we’re being completely honest here, Hilton is far and away the leader at the position in terms of in-game experience as Grant and Rogers have a total of 126 receptions and 7 receiving touchdowns between the two of them. Just for context, Hilton averages over 70 receptions and 5.5 touchdowns per season thus far. So even Hilton’s supporting cast is bringing in a bit less than two season’s worth of production as complementary role players.
It’s understandable why, nationally, analysts aren’t giving the Colts’ skill positions a ton of respect, despite how the fan base sees their respective potential. Additionally, the fact that the rest of the receivers on the Colts roster have a grand total of 28 NFL receptions between them.
However, rookies Deon Cain and Reece Fountain are giving fans a lot to look forward to, and K.J. Brent, Kasen Williams and Krishawn Hogan have been riding the line between practice squad and active roster recently with some exciting traits.
Recently, Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni stated that he saw “a lot of playmakers” at the skill positions and it appears that head coach Frank Reich has also been impressed with the team’s pass catchers as well.
Wednesday, when asked about the competition at the position, Reich offered some encouraging words about the group.
“I’m really happy with the whole group. I mean all the guys have been flashing. I really feel strongly about this young wide receiver crew. Number one, the way they are coming off the football and the way they are competing. Really through Phase II when we were on the field and now – with just two days of OTAs – there are things that really excite me. I know we have a long way to go, but there is a lot of progress. There are some guys who are explosive. (There are) some big, strong guys. I think we are catching the ball well. So I’m really encouraged.”
It’s quite possible that the team shifts around some of the players as the summer progresses. However, with a clear focus on youth, size, speed and upside, it doesn’t appear that the Colts’ brass is interested in making any wholesale changes or perceived upgrades by bringing in a big name player at the position.
The Colts clearly don’t expect any surprises when it comes to the return of Andrew Luck for the 2018 season and this, the long-term approach, only makes sense if the team feels it possesses an exciting young group to build around their franchise quarterback.
There aren’t a great deal of game-changers on the free agent market and Reich is clearly happy about this group of rookies, but remains realistic about his early expectations just the same.
“I think they are all making progress. The goal at this point is you want to flash on the good side, but you want to be consistent. So it’s really about, when you’re learning, developing the consistency in those guys at this point. So we just need more reps to figure out where they’re at on that scale right now.”
While the coaching staff has good impressions about what they’re seeing thus far, the hopes are that Luck can expedite the position’s growth, Hilton can bring a couple along quicker under his tutelage, and that Reich’s play-calling can hide the inexperience by putting them in situations to succeed early and often.
Without question, this receiver competition is going to be an interesting watch throughout the summer.