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Film Room: Rookie Review of Parris Campbell’s season

How did Parris Campbell fare in year one with the Colts?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts are finally in off-season mode after finishing the 2019 NFL season with a record of 7-9. While the season was a bit disappointing, things could have been worse when you consider the late retirement of Andrew Luck and the injuries the team dealt with all year. Regardless, it is time to shift our focus to the off-season and consider who to add and to evaluate the talent already on the roster.

One film series we will bring to Stampede Blue this off-season is a Rookie Review series that will chronicle each of these rookies’ seasons, including a look a their statistical production. Today, we focus on rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell. It wasn’t quite the rookie year we all expected from Campbell as he struggled a bit when he played and fought through many injuries throughout the season. He finished the season with just 18 catches for 127 yards and one touchdown.

Weeks 1-4: Slowly working into the offense, making some impact

Campbell’s season started a bit slow as the team opted to give more playing time to veterans on the team in Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal over the explosive rookie. He did flash some ability in these few games and got on the field quite a bit in weeks three and four. He totaled 13 targets through these three weeks and hauled in 10 of those targets for 62 yards and his first career touchdown. The Colts also worked him in a little bit in the run game as he had one rush for seven yards in the first four weeks.

On Campbell’s first career touchdown, you can see all his potential on one play. Facing off man coverage in the slot with no safety help, this is an easy win from the word go for the speedy receiver. Even with Logan Ryan, one of the league’s best slot corners, in coverage, the Titans stood no chance on this play. Campbell beats Ryan to the corner of the end zone for the easy touchdown. Unfortunately this would be the peak of his season as injuries and inconsistencies derailed what looked like a promising start.

In the following week against the Falcons, Campbell put up a modest three catches for 24 yards stat line. He displayed some of his ability though in that modest showing. Here he is yet again facing off man coverage in the slot, an easy win for the Colts. Campbell runs a quick five yard hitch, makes a nice catch away from his body, and then turns up field while making the defender miss for an eleven yard gain.

One of the biggest concerns in his game as a rookie was how often he put the ball on the turf. For a player who had less than thirty touches this year, losing one fumble and almost losing two others is very concerning. Hopefully he can work with RB Coach Tom Rathman in the off-season and secure the ball better. Outside of the lost fumble though, this is a nice play where he breaks three tackles and nearly score before just barely being caught from behind and fumbling on the play.

Weeks 5-8: The first of many injuries

Campbell underwent sports hernia surgery after week four which left him sidelined until week nine against the Steelers. He was active for the game against the Broncos in week eight but barely saw any action due to just coming back from this injury.

Week 9: The flashes show before yet another injury

Week nine was Campbell’s best performance of the season before leaving in the fourth quarter due to a hand injury. He had five catches for 53 yards while also adding 27 yards rushing on three carries. He looked fast and explosive all day as the coaching staff schemed up big plays for the young receiver. He did fumble twice and that is an issue going forward but the flashes of his talent were evident in this game.

The Colts looked to get Campbell involved early and often in this game and it worked out for the most part. Here he comes across the field on the drag route and gets a one-on-one with a defender in open space. He makes the defender miss and he should be on his way to his second career touchdown. Unfortunately, he falls just short of the end zone as the turf monster trips him up. He fumbles out of bounds—luckily— as the Colts are just shy of the end zone. A lot of talent shown on this play but he just can’t finish the play for the score.

Get playmakers the ball in anyway possible. That is exactly what the Colts do here as the scheme up a reverse for the speedy wide out as he takes it up the field for a big gain of 25 yards. Notice how effortlessly Campbell glides down the field as he runs. If he can stay healthy in year two, there could be big things coming his way with more schemed touches.

This game was just aggravating on so many levels. The Colts showed so much of how they planned to use Campbell throughout the season in this one game and it worked to success as he totaled 80 yards in the game. They schemed him touches, they used him on drags and screens, and they took advantage of favorable match-ups on him all game long. It really makes you think about what his impact could have been if he stayed healthy. Here he takes the wide open drag route for a modest gain of 16 yards.

Weeks 10-17: Injuries pile up and derail a rookie season

Campbell just couldn’t get on the field after his breakout game against the Steelers. He fractured his hand late in the game which sidelined him until week 14 against the Buccaneers. He then proceeded to break his foot in the third quarter of that game, effectively ending his season. Throughout his rookie year, Campbell had a hamstring injury, a sports hernia, a fractured hand, and a broken foot. Not a great year of injuries for the promising rookie.

Final Thoughts

While it wasn’t quite the year that we all hoped for Campbell, I do still have optimism for his future with the team. He has truly electrifying speed and showcased ability as a playmaker when he was on the field. The biggest concern going forward will be how he comes back from all these injuries and if he can continue to grow as a player once returning.

It should be interesting to see how Campbell is used in year two if he can stay healthy. He has the athleticism and upside to be a good player in this league, he just has to get on the field to show next year.