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Wide Receiver/Tight End Burning Questions Heading Into Training Camp

Posted Jul 15, 2014

Intro: After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Colts have the foundation set for a deep playoff run. What’s in store at the wide receiver and tight end position groups heading into the 2014 training camp?



INDIANAPOLIS –No position on the Colts roster has more proven depth on the team’s roster than the pass catcher spots.

It’s a great problem to have for Andrew Luck when the real question becomes if there’s enough “ball” to go around to all the different receivers and tight ends on the roster.

Here’s a look at the wide receiver burning questions heading into training camp.

Will Reggie Wayne return to the perennial Pro Bowler he’s been for the last handful of years?

If Reggie Wayne finds himself in the starting lineup come September 7 in Denver, he will be about 10 and 1/2 months removed from tearing his ACL.

The early returns on Wayne’s rehab are very promising.

Wayne wants to be out there in Anderson, but Chuck Pagano will undoubtedly error on the side of caution.

Returning from an ACL injury at the age of 35 is a feat in itself and Wayne has his sights set on playing a 14th NFL season at the highest of levels.

While Wayne has had Pro Bowl seasons in his 30s, odds are stacked against him turning in another 1,000-yard season.

The Colts have plenty of ammo on the offensive side of the ball that Wayne isn’t needed to take on the burden of playmaking responsibility, like he did (and did exceptionally well) in 2012.

It’s remarkable that Wayne is even being mentioned as a possibility for the season opener.

Every time Wayne’s talked with the media since his ACL injury, he’s reassured the notion that he will be ready come Week One.

His numbers might not scream “Pro Bowl” in 2014 but expect Wayne to be there time after time when Andrew Luck dials up No. 87.

STAT TO NOTE: The ACL injury to Wayne ended his streak of 189 consecutive starts, which, at the time, was the second longest active streak in the NFL.



How do the Colts three 1,000-yard receivers complement each other?


We know what a healthy Wayne gives this Colts offense.

He’s a technician with his precise route running and his deft hands are a quarterback’s best friend.

But what about Hakeem Nicks and T.Y. Hilton?

Let’s start with Nicks.

He gives the Colts receiving group something that was missing---a physical threat that excels at going up and getting the ball.

A little more size at receiver should be beneficial in finding red zone mismatches, an area of the field the Colts are looking to improve on in 2014.

And then there’s the electric Hilton.

He showed last year that he can more than handle a lead role but that might not be needed in 2014.

With Wayne and Nicks in the fold, it allows for Hilton to move all over the offensive formations and ideally line up in advantageous situations.

STAT TO NOTE: Hilton’s 10 100-yard receiving games after two NFL seasons are tied for the second most in league history.



What’s in store for the Colts young receivers behind the unit’s “Big Three”?


The luxury of three 1,000-yard receivers means the rest of the position group will likely have to find roles in other areas besides 40 plus offensive snaps.

Rookie Donte Moncrief has the physical tools of an elite receiver and showed more than enough flashes in the SEC to say that can translate to the next level.

He’s just 20 years old and, while the offensive snaps might not be extensive in 2014, Moncrief can help this team out as a returner.

It remains to be seen how the Colts fill out the rest of the receivers group but Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen are right there in the next wave.

Rogers is similar to Moncrief from an athletic standpoint and if he can get down his route running, the future is bright for a player who led the SEC in receiving back in 2011.

Whalen has bounced around the Colts practice squad and active roster, and when called upon, he’s answered in a variety of settings.

When Hilton was asked to become the lead receiver, Whalen filled in just fine as the team’s punt returner.

STAT TO NOTE: In 2013, Whalen had eight punt returns for 104 yards, including a Colts season long 51-yarder against Houston.



How will Pep Hamilton utilize the skillsets of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener in 2014?


A healthy Dwayne Allen participated during the Colts offseason program and that could pay large dividends for the offensive unit in 2014.

Having the services of both Allen and Coby Fleener this season allows for Pep Hamilton to get a bit more creative with his offense.

Fleener fully embraced the extra bulk of work that was thrown his way in 2013.

With Allen back, that allows Hamilton to use each of the tight ends to their specific strengths.

For Fleener, that’s putting his 6-6 frame to work and that even comes with splitting him out wide at times.

For Allen, he’s shown an ability to excel in the backfield and as an in-line blocker, along with catching 45 passes during this rookie season.

The receiver group has gotten, and deservedly so, a ton of attention this offseason but the tight end duo of Fleener and Allen should only enhance the offensive production in 2014.

STAT TO NOTE: Last season, Fleener finished the second on the Colts with 52 catches for 608 yards.



ICYMI: Quarterback Burning Questions

ICYMI: Running Back Burning Questions


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