RELATED LINK:• Wide Receiver/Tight End Questions Heading Into 2016 Training CampINDIANAPOLIS — One through three, the Indianapolis Colts are set at wide receiver.
They have an established Pro Bowler at the top (T.Y. Hilton), a budding star at No. 2 (Donte Moncrief) and a speedster at No. 3 who wants to continue making a name for himself in his second year in the league (Phillip Dorsett).
Beyond those three, however, the Colts have plenty of players (nine of them) vying for the remaining two — or possibly three — wide receiver spots that will remain on the final 53-man roster.
So how will it all shake out?
Here's a look at the state of the Colts' wide receivers heading into training camp:NOTABLE RETURNERS:
- Quan Bray
- Phillip Dorsett
- T.Y. Hilton
- Donte MoncriefNOTABLE ADDITIONS:
- Josh Boyce
- Brian TymsNOTABLE CAMP BATTLES:
- Daniel Anthrop
- Marcus Leak
- MeKale McKay
- Chester Rogers
- Tevaun Smith
- Joshua StangbyNOTABLE LOSSES:
- Andre Johnson (released)
- Griff Whalen (waived)
Last year, the Colts entered training camp knowing their wide receiver rotation for the upcoming season. With the addition of Johnson (through free agency) and Dorsett (in the first round of the NFL Draft), the team believed it had one of the deeper wide receiving corps in the league.
This year, the talent and depth is certainly still there — the team just needs to figure out how it wants to fill out the rest of the depth chart at the position.
Of course, it all starts with Hilton, who is coming off his second straight Pro Bowl season with the Colts. In 2015 — without Andrew Luck in the lineup for more than half the season — Hilton recorded 69 receptions for 1,124 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Going into the offseason, however, Hilton suddenly found himself as the elder statesmen of the wide receivers room. Gone were veterans like Reggie Wayne and Johnson, and even Whalen. Head coach Chuck Pagano said Hilton became noticeably more vocal throughout workouts, OTAs and minicamp, adding another layer to what he brings both on and off the field.
"T.Y. is having as good an offseason as anybody, probably better than anybody right now," Pagano said. "There's a lot of good stuff going on out there, but I've never seen this guy practice as fast as he's practicing right now and competing at the level he's competing at and leading the way that he's leading. He's done it day in and day out."
Moncrief, meanwhile, put together a solid second season in the NFL last year, and has seen his name buzzing this offseason as a player who could really break out in 2016
In 2014, his rookie year, Moncrief played in all 16 games, catching 32 passes for 444 yards with three touchdowns. Those numbers virtually doubled in 2015: 64 receptions, 733 yards and six touchdowns.
The question is legit: Could the Colts have two 1,000-yard receivers on their hands again?
Dorsett, meanwhie, hopes to blossom in Year 2, much like Moncrief did last season. Playing in the slot or on the outside — or wherever he lines up — the Colts are excited about what Dorsett brings to the field.
In his rookie season last year, Dorsett caught 18 passes for 225 yards and one touchdown — a 35-yard play. While he was at Miami, Dorsett led all of college football with a 23.3 yards-per-catch average, and he hopes to bring more of that flavor into his second season in 2016.
That's where the certainties end for the Colts' wide receivers, however. From there, nine players are vying for spots, led by special teams stud Quan Bray, former TCU standout Josh Boyce and fourth-year veteran Bryan Tyms.
Bray last season began the year on the practice squad, but ultimately was brought onto the 53-man roster for his elite returning skills — and he didn't disappoint. In just nine games, the rookie finished with 21 kickoff returns for 570 yards (an average of 27.1 yards per return, which led the AFC) and had 21 punt returns for 166 yards (an average of 7.9 yards per return). As a punt returner, Bray had returns that included 11, 15, 16, 17, 19 (twice), 20 and 33 yards, respectively.
Bray didn't record any receptions for the Colts' offense last year, however, and he has been working hard to make a name for himself both as a returner and as a receiver.
"Just for me, just getting in my right depths, working on releases and just being prepared and knowing the plays," Bray said of what, specifically, he's been working on at receiver. "If you can know the plays and play fast, then hopefully I'll have a good chance to help the offense a lot this year."
Boyce, meanwhile, was seen making plays for the Colts' offense throughout the offseason, and could be a candidate for that fourth or fifth spot. A standout at TCU, Boyce was a fourth-round pick by the New England Patriots in 2013, and played in nine games (with three starts) his rookie season as a receiver and returner. In 2014, however, he was relegated to the Patriots' practice squad through Week 16, and last year, he was cut during training camp.
Tyms also showed traits of a solid pass catcher this offseason for the Colts. Like Boyce, Tyms spent the last two seasons with the Patriots. Tyms spent the entire 2015 season on New England's IR list.
He signed as a college free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and then bounced around to the Miami Dolphins' practice squad, the Cleveland Browns' active roster, the Browns' practice squad and then back to their 53-man roster before his release in March 2014. He signed with the Patriots that July, and played in 11 games in 2014, catching five passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
The rest of the receivers currently on the Colts roster — Anthrop, Leak, McKay, Rogers and Smith — were undrafted rookies this year, with the exception of Stangby, who was signed to Indianapolis' practice squad last Dec. 21.2016 Colts Training Camp Previews:- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
- Running Backs
- Inside Linebackers
- Tight Ends
- Outside Linebackers
- Wide Receivers