INDIANAPOLIS — With the month of July — and the start of training camp — upon us, it’s time for the Indianapolis Colts’ Burning Questions series.
We continue today with the wide receiver position:
» What kind of immediate impact can Devin Funchess make?
For years the Colts have been searching long and hard for that No. 2 wide receiver that can come in and take some of the heat off T.Y. Hilton, and they think they’ve found just that in Devin Funchess. Signed early in free agency to a reported one-year deal, Funchess, at 6 foot 4 and 225 pounds, provides a huge target for Andrew Luck to throw to, and he brings with him some big-play potential that he flashed in his first four seasons with the Carolina Panthers, where he caught 161 passes for 2,233 yards and 21 touchdowns. And much like the Colts did with tight end Eric Ebron in his first season in Indy in 2018, the thought is that Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni’s offense can help Funchess reach even newer heights in 2019. “When I watch his tape, what I see is a big man who is really athletic. I like to talk about having route-running skill; this combination of having good feet, good instincts and good body control, and then what sometimes we refer to as body quickness,” Reich said in March. “And Devin has all of that.”
» How will special teams factor in to roster decisions at wide receiver?
The first couple spots at wide receiver heading into training camp seem to be accounted for, but that means there are as many as four other spots that are there for the taking over the next couple months in what will be perhaps the most notable competition on the entire roster. Who will primarily line up in the slot? Will Chester Rogers, who made several big catches out of that spot last season, be back in that job? Or will there be a role carved out at the slot for speedy second-round pick Parris Campbell? On the outside, who will earn jobs between Daurice Fountain, Krishawn Hogan, Steve Ishmael, Marcus Johnson and Zach Pascal? Can Ashton Dulin, Penny Hart or Jordan Veasy catch some eyes and earn a spot on the 53-man roster coming out of camp? A big part of the answer to these questions could very well come down to which players are better contributors on special teams. The Colts utilized Rogers (punt) and Pascal (kickoff) as their returners last year, but will someone else step into one of those spots moving forward? And will special teams prowess be the difference between Reich keeping five or six wideouts on the 53-man roster? There are so many questions, and fortunately for Colts fans, it won’t be long until you start to get some answers.
» Is Deon Cain a potential X-factor?
Then there’s Deon Cain. A sixth-round pick last year out of Clemson, Cain put in arguably the most eye-catching training camp of anybody before suffering a torn ACL in the Colts’ very first preseason game and missing his entire rookie season. The hope is that Cain will be good to go for this year’s training camp, where he’ll get the opportunity to start working his way back to — and even beyond — the level he displayed during last year’s camp. But ACL recoveries can be a tricky thing — ask safety Malik Hooker how long it was until he really started to feel like himself last season — so it very well could be a month or two before Cain is fully back. But once he is back, look out: Cain has the potential to be a very dangerous weapon with an elite ability to go up and beat defenders and make plays down the field for this Indy offense.