INDIANAPOLIS — **The 2017 season was a continual work in progress for the Indianapolis Colts’ wide receivers, who certainly had moments where they shined, but also worked their way through a year in which they had to develop timing on the spot with a brand new quarterback in Jacoby Brissett.
Despite that factor, however, top target T.Y. Hilton still managed to turn in a Pro Bowl performance for a fourth season in a row, though his consecutive seasons of reaching the 1,000-yard receiving plateau came to a halt at four, as he missed the mark by a mere 34 yards, finishing 2017 with 966 yards through the air.
Donte Moncrief, Chester Rogers and Kamar Aiken, meanwhile, would combine to catch 64 passes (seven more than Hilton’s total of 57) and three touchdowns (one less than Hilton’s four).
Moncrief and Aiken each head into the offseason set to become unrestricted free agents once the NFL’s new year begins at 4 p.m. March 14, so the makeup of the Colts’ wide receiver room could be significantly different in 2018 — especially with the influence of a new head coach working with general manager Chris Ballard.
Here’s a review of the play of the Colts’ wide receivers in 2017.
Ghost with the most
Hilton has earned numerous accolades over the course of his six years in the NFL, and a standout performance against the Houston Texans added AFC Offensive Player of the Week to his résumé.
The third-round selection by the Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft pulled in five passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns during the Colts’ 20-14 Week 9 win in Houston.
The receiving yardage total was the third highest for a regular season game in his career, marked his 27th career 100-yard receiving game and was his seventh career multiple touchdown game. He would add his 28th career 100-yard game in Week 16 against the Baltimore Ravens.
It marked the first time the star out of Florida International garnered the award, though he also earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week recognition as a rookie during Week 12 of the 2012 season, when he caught a touchdown and returned a punt 75 yards for a score against the Buffalo Bills, becoming the only Colts player to score receiving and special teams touchdowns in the same game.
Opening in the curtain
Rogers has a way to go before he catches up to Hilton’s number of 100-yard performances, but he got the most important one — the first — out of the way Week 10 vs. Pittsburgh.
The second year wideout from Grambling State led the Colts with six receptions for 104 yards and a 61-yard touchdown that gave the Colts a 17-3 lead early in the third quarter over the Steelers.
Rogers found a hole in the secondary near the Steelers’ 30-yard line, pulled in Brissett’s pass, made a nice move that caused a pair of Pittsburgh defenders to collide and ran into the end zone untouched. The touchdown was the first of Rogers’ career and the catch was the longest of his career.
“I’ve been dreaming about that one since I was a kid,” Rogers said.
The Huntsville, Ala., native totaled 23 receptions for 284 yards and the one score in 2017 adding to the 19 catches and 273 yards during his rookie season in 2016. Also used as a punt returner over the course of both seasons, Rogers has started six games at wide receiver of the 25 in which he has seen action for the Colts.
Krishawn Hogan — the first player from NAIA Marian University to play in an NFL game — played in two games this season (Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks and Week 5 against the San Francisco 49ers) and finished with one special teams tackle. The former Warren Central Warrior was placed on IR on Oct. 9 after tearing hisACL and MCL on a special teams play in the win against the 49ers.
K.J. Brent was signed to the Colts’ practice squad on Oct, 24 after spending time on the Seahawks’ practice squad earlier this season. Brent participated in the Oakland Raiders’ 2017 offseason program and training camp before being waived during final cuts, and would play in five games with the Colts in 2017.
The Colts have signed numerous wide receivers to reserve/futures contracts for 2018. Each of them has experience on NFL practice squads with some having seen time on active rosters. Dres Anderson, Seantavius Jones, Justice Liggins, James Wright, Kolby Listenbee and DeAndre Smelter will all look to get noticed and make a mark on the 2018 Colts roster.
Number to remember
11: Hilton remained one of the league’s top deep threats in 2017, as his 11 receptions of 25 yards or more were tied for the seventh most in the NFL.