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Colts Training Camp Battles to Watch: Wide Receivers

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General Manager Chris Ballard’s emphasis on competition has never been more evident than this year’s training camp. Multiple positions on the roster will be wide open for the taking, and none is more interesting, perhaps, than the wide receivers.

Apart from T.Y. Hilton, the depth chart at wide receiver is completely open. The question is, who will step up and make an impression in camp? With Andrew Luck healthy and slinging the football this offseason, the receivers will need to show up ready to impress. I’m not sure the Colts will keep 6 receivers this season, and with one of those spots locked up in favor of Hilton, that leaves 4 spots up for grabs.

The Frontrunners

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Ryan Grant

For all intents and purposes, Ryan Grant sounds like the Jack Doyle of the wide receivers. Per Zach Hicks’ scouting report on Grant, here’s what former coach Jay Gruden had to say about him:

“He’s Mr. Consistent. Everything we ask him to do, he does, and he does it right. No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do … he’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is.”

That pretty well encapsulates the kind of guy Ryan Grant is. He maximizes his talents through hard work and smarts. He is reliable and a good route runner who has the ability to play all over the field. However, those same things that are detriments to Jack Doyle’s game are issues in Grants. He is an average athlete and he isn’t breaking a ton of tackles for more yards after the catch. Still, the Colts could do a lot worse than a reliable receiver who compliments Hilton and is a consistent route runner.

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Chester Rogers

Rogers has been a player many hoped to see blossom into a reliable number 2. His second season was hampered by injury as well as the loss of Andrew Luck for the season. There were flashes toward the end of his rookie season where he really seemed like the better player when compared with Phillip Dorsett, but his breakout season never happened with Luck on the sideline, and while he has shown promise, there is real competition in the wings this year. If “Chester from Grambling” doesn’t have a great camp showing, he might find himself sliding in the depth chart in favor of one of these up and coming rookies.

The Contenders

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Deon Cain

Normally wide receivers who are picked 185th don’t get much fanfare in the offseason. Deon Cain hasn’t had a normal offseason. Almost immediately, both at OTAs and minicamp, people were talking about Cain’s impressive performances in practice. Up until there are pads on and real football being played, a lot of that is just speculation. However, he is making an impression, which is what you’ve got to do to get on the field.

The Clemson receiver was a surprising find when he fell to the Colts in the 6th round, considering that many analysts had him going in the 2nd or 3rd round. At 6’2” and 202lbs, he certainly has the size Chris Ballard covets in receivers. While Cain has struggled some with drops, if he can prove himself over the next month, he could very possibly earn himself not only a roster spot, but a chance to get on the field and shine.

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Reece Fountain

Another Colts rookie who has an opportunity to show what he can do is Reece Fountain. Fountain comes from Northern Iowa, and despite being a small school guy, showed up for the East-West Shrine game and made an impression on everyone.

The most obvious and noticeable thing about Fountain is that he has freakish athleticism. His 42.5” vertical, and his 11’2” broad jump are impressive, and that raw athleticism and his energetic and dedicated demeanor will be Fountain’s ticket to a meaningful spot on this roster. With coaching and reps, Fountain has all the skills to be a deadly jump ball receiver in the red zone. His ability to successfully high point the ball and win at the catch point could make him invaluable. He will just need to prove he can be an asset on special teams while learning and developing.

Guys With A Lot To Prove

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K.J. Brent, Krishawn Hogan, Steve Ishmael and Sentavius Jones all have the size to be the kind of big bodied receiver the Colts have lacked. Of them, Hogan might have stood the best chance of making the final roster, given his time last season spent with the team. However, his ACL tear and the slow recovery process that typically follows could make that a tough comeback.

Personally, I don’t see one of the drafted rookies losing out on a spot in favor of any of the rest of the guys on this roster. A player like Rogers or Grant could potentially be cut if someone really shows up, but it seems highly unlikely. I view most of these remaining guys as camp bodies who may manage to squeak on as a special teamer if the Colts decide to keep 6. Otherwise, all this jockeying for positions will largely be to determine who will grab the 2 and 3 receiver spots.