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Colts Envision RB Nyheim Hines in a ‘Danny Woodhead Dual Threat Role’ with New QB Philip Rivers

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Miami Dolphins v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

According to offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni (via ISC Sports Network’s Greg Rakestraw), Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines could be poised for a breakout 2020 campaign—particularly as it relates to a receiving, dual threat role with new veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense:

The 3rd-year running back had 52 carries for 199 rushing yards (3.8 ypc. avg.) and 2 rushing touchdowns and also amassed 44 receptions for 320 receiving yards (7.3 ypr. avg.) during 16 games (2 starts) in 2019.

Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Hines saw 29 total snaps as a slot receiver last year, the 11th most among all running backs—where he had 11 receptions (on 12 targets) for 74 receiving yards. His receiving percentage (91.7%) trailed only Carolina Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey among slot receiving backs—qualified with 10 or more total receiving targets.

Rivers has had a lot of success historically with dual-threat running backs—most notably, Darren Sproles previously, but also Danny Woodhead—and even Austin Ekeler last season.

Sirianni made the direct comparison to Woodhead though, who had 80 receptions for 755 receiving yards (9.4 ypr. avg.) and 6 touchdown receptions in 2015—which was Colts head coach Frank Reich’s last season as offensive coordinator in San Diego with Rivers (and a year where Sirianni served as the Bolts’ quarterbacks coach).

While two bellcows: last year’s 1,000+ yard rusher Marlon Mack and highly touted rookie Jonathan Taylor are expected to handle the majority of the between the tackles work and short yardage situations, Hines should otherwise carve out a prominent role on 3rd downs and obvious passing situations—and even situationally in the screen/split-out game.

The versatile back has already flashed his immense receiving potential at times:

However, this might be the year that he fully puts his receiving prowess together for a full season with the help of a wily veteran quarterback who excels throwing to his scatbacks—and an offense coached by Reich and Sirianni that prominently features them in the passing game.