With the loss of Deon Cain to a season ending ACL tear, the Colts may be thinking about bringing in some free agent talent to fill the role he likely would have. Additionally, with the loss of Robert Turbin to suspension and Marlon Mack sidelined for a few weeks with a hamstring strain, there is a real possibility the team will be looking at some options at running back as well. Here are some names that might be on Chris Ballard’s short list as possible replacements.
RB - Orleans Darkwa
A player that the Colts have already talked to, Darkwa had his most successful season as a pro last year with the Giants. He played in 15 games netting 751 rushing yards, 116 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns.
Darkwa could see a renewed interest from teams like the Redskins, who will be looking to replace Derrius Guice. At 26, he should be inexpensive enough for the Colts to bring him in as a solid contributor on the roster on a short-term deal. Without a ton of young, talented running backs on the market, Darkwa may be the best option available.
RB - Branden Oliver
Branden Oliver may be a player the Colts would have some interest in as a possible rotational back. Oliver has played for Frank Reich before, getting his start as an undrafted free agent in San Diego during Reich’s tenure as offensive coordinator there.
Oliver brings a small, Darren Sproles-like ability which saw him rack up 853 yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns his rookie season. His next two seasons were marred by injury, with turf toe causing him to miss 8 games in 2015 and a torn achilles ending his 2016 season. With Melvin Gordon becoming the Chargers’ bell cow back, Oliver was expendable and could be a player worth bringing in.
WR - Jordan Matthews
Another player with whom Reich has some familiarity, the pickup of Jordan Matthews would be contingent upon his medicals. Based on the way the Patriots dealt with him, his hamstring injury may be significant, which might mean it wouldn’t make sense to sign him. If healthy, and assuming that he and Reich had a decent relationship, he could be a guy that would add more veteran ability to a roster without defined top receivers.
At 6’3” 215lbs, Matthews’ first two seasons in the league saw him pull in 8 touchdowns each. His 2016 production tapered off and he missed time in 2017 with several minor injuries. Just 26 years old, Matthews could provide a proven red zone target, and might be willing to work on a short-term deal to sweeten his market as his past two seasons have seen his production drop due to injuries.
WR - Quan Bray
The market for high quality receivers is pretty thin right now, and that could leave the Colts waiting for cutdowns before making many real moves at the receiver position. However, the Colts don’t need a top receiver, what they do need is a guy who can fill out depth and be a factor in special teams. Quan Bray fits that role and has spent most of his career with the Colts. Bray is smaller than the typical receiver that Ballard has brought in, but given Nyheim Hines’ struggles in the return game, he could make a very smart addition to compete through the rest of camp. If he managed to make the roster, great. If not, they can pick up someone else’s cast off in September during cutdowns.