The Colts lost receiver Devin Funchess to a broken collar bone in their week one loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. On the last day of camp they lost Reece Fountain, who had been making highlight catch after highlight catch. Parris Campbell has still been working to get up to speed after missing most of camp with a hamstring injury that he couldn’t seem to shake.
What all that means is that, as usual, the Colts will need a great contribution from star wide out T.Y. Hilton to move the ball well. However, unlike in past years, he isn’t the lone man who can do the job. Deon Cain, the second-year player who lost his 2018 rookie debut to an ACL tear, is back and ready to go.
Cain looked good in his first official NFL action against the Chargers. Sure, he didn’t have a breakout performance to speak of, but when he was targeted, he made the most of it.
When asked if Cain could be the guy who steps up in place of Funchess, Frank Reich said this:
“Yeah, they are different types of receivers but Deon we feel like is a big-play receiver. I mean he has that in his game and I just think this is a great opportunity for him.”
Cain won’t shy away from the responsibility or opportunity, and for his part seems ready to go. When asked if Funchess’ injury was an opportunity, he was ready for he said:
“Yeah, sorry to hear that for my boy. He was a great contributor for us and he put up great numbers for us. Now it’s just really next man up when it comes to that type of situation. So I just want to go out and be confident throughout this week, but hopefully (it’s) a speedy recovery for my boy.”
Neither quote here is remarkable, they’re in line with standard football talk. The question is, can Cain be a real contributor to the offense. Let’s take a look at how he did Sunday and see.
Here we have Cain lined up to the right side against man coverage from Casey Hayward.
He basically wins the route as soon as the ball is snapped, giving a great jab step to the inside before breaking outside. Hayward steps inside with him and is a step behind the rest of the route. He is running an 8-yard comeback, and it is certainly a bit of a risky throw because even though Cain has a step, if Hayward turns around and jumps the route he is getting a pick six. Brissett squeezes the ball in there and Cain goes aggressively after the catch, then finishes by making sure to get the first down.
Next we have Cain matched up in single coverage again against Brandon Facyson on the left side of the field.
Again, Cain has a step on Facyson right away due to his inside jab step, and when he hits the top of his route, Facyson isn’t ready for the comeback. Cain makes a good catch here for a 25-yard pickup.
My only complaint on this play is that I wish he had kept his feet. Cain jumps to make the catch, which is unnecessary, and that causes him to fall after the catch. With his man on the ground and Jenkins as the deep safety a good 15-20 yards away, this play probably goes for 6 if he can stay upright.
The Colts will need Cain to take on a bigger role with Funchess out. He played just 11 snaps in Sunday’s game and was targeted just twice. He made both catches and had 35 yards, which trailed only Hilton. Going forward, that number likely goes up quite a bit. Marlon Mack is a great running back, but it would be unrealistic to think he can run for 174 yards every week, which means that they’ll undoubtedly throw the ball more some weeks.
If he can play with this kind of success when he sees the field, the Colts may have finally found the receiver they’ve been looking so long for to pair up with Hilton.