• 2016 Colts Training Camp Preview: Wide ReceiversANDERSON, Ind. — A little more than one month from now, nine wide receivers on the Indianapolis Colts' current 90-man roster — those fighting for jobs behind the first three spots — will have been whittled down to just two or three.
With so many bodies out to show what they're made of — starting today, with the first official day of training camp practices — Lee Hull is bucked in and ready for what he expects to be a fun ride.
Hull, who is in his first season as the Colts' wide receivers coach, knows from experience that with serious competition, the cream always rises to the top.
"We have a bunch of guys that are trying to be that fourth, fifth or sixth receiver," Hull said this week. "So now the competition is going to be furious. They learned the system, so it's going to be how they come back and how they perform in camp."
Those nine receivers fighting for spots — Daniel Anthrop, Quan Bray, Josh Boyce, Marcus Leak, MeKale McKay, Chester Rogers, Tevaun Smith, Joshua Stangby and Brian Tyms — each bring their own flavor to the position, which is led at the top by T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett.
But of all of them, it's likely safe to say that Bray, Boyce and Tyms have the biggest leg up entering training camp.
Bray, a second-year Auburn product, came on strong halfway through last season for the Colts' special teams units, flashing his skills as a returner. By the time the season was over, Bray had already established himself as one of the top kick and punt returners in the league, leading the AFC with a 27.1 yards-per-return average on kickoffs.
But Bray wasn't a factor in the Indianapolis passing game, as he recorded no receptions for the Colts' offense in his rookie season.
Now that the coaching staff knows how dangerous Bray can be with the ball in his hands, however, his position coach says it's up to Bray to showcase in training camp how much he's progressed as a receiver so he can earn some targets on offense this season.
"He's got to become a better receiver, because we're going to need him," Hull said. "Obviously he does a great job on special teams for us, so he's going to take up a spot there, so we've got to get him to develop as a receiver. He's still a young receiver, so we've got to get him to develop and fill that fourth or fifth role so, in case of injury, he can go in there and play"
Quan Bray in action during the 2015 season.
Boyce and Tyms, meanwhile, are the remaining wide receivers on the Colts' roster not named Hilton, Moncrief, Dorsett or Bray that have at least some professional experience.
Boyce was selected by the New England Patriots in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, playing in nine games (with three starts) in his rookie season as both a receiver and a returner. He spent most of the season on the Patriots' practice squad in 2014, however, and last season he was cut during training camp.
Tyms' time in the NFL spans back to 2012, when he was signed by the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of Florida A&M. He has since spent time on the rosters of the 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots. In all, he has played in 18 career games (with two starts) and has seven receptions for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Last year, however, Tyms spent the entire season on the Patriots' IR list.
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.
Hull says he's going to depend upon his top three guys — Hilton, Moncrief and Dorsett — to set the pace in training camp to show the other receivers what it takes to stick at this level.
"We need those guys to have good camps and kind of lead the way for the young guys," Hull said. "There's a lot of potential, and it's my job and [offensive coordinator Rob] Chudzinski's job to get those guys to where they need to be, and I'm looking forward to that."