WESTFIELD, Ind. — When fans think of some of the more notorious big-play NFL wide receivers of the past six or seven years, it won't be long until the names Dez Bryant and Jeremy Maclin are brought up.
Whether it's Bryant and his unique mix of size and athleticism or Maclin and his pure speed and breakaway ability, few receivers can boast the résumés of both veteran pass catchers.
So with both Bryant and Maclin remaining on the free agent market for the better part of the last four-plus months, perhaps it's not surprising that some Indianapolis Colts fans have expressed an interest in the team signing either player to boast its receiving corps.
Now into the final week of training camp — and with one preseason game under their belt — the Colts probably won't be pursuing either Bryant or Maclin, however. At least not at this juncture.
That's the word from Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who was asked about the possibility of signing either Bryant or Maclin on Monday in an appearance on ProFootballTalk's #PFTPM podcast.
"Good players, without question," Ballard told host Mike Florio. "Right now internally we're just gonna continue to work with this young group we have, and continue to go down the preseason path."
2018 Training Camp - Day 13 - PRACTICE (Offense)
The Colts in 2018 will likely have just two wide receivers on their roster — T.Y. Hilton and Chester Rogers — who logged a single reception for the team the previous year. The team this offseason utilized free agency to bring in former Washington Redskins receiver Ryan Grant, who has established himself throughout camp as No. 2 on the depth chart; but beyond Hilton, Grant and Chester, spots are completely wide open for the taking.
Indianapolis thought it had discovered a diamond in the rough in Deon Cain, whom the team selected in the sixth round of this year's NFL Draft out of Clemson. After an impressive offseason workout program and start to training camp, however, Cain suffered what is believed to be a season-ending torn ACL in the Colts' preseason opener Thursday night against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Colts have draft capital elsewhere at the position in Reece Fountain, a fifth-round pick. Several others — including K.J. Brent, Zach Pascal and Krishawn Hogan, to name a few — have also stepped up in recent days.
The advantage of sticking with their current options instead of signing a player like Bryant or Maclin, for example, has everything to do with timing, Ballard said.
Sure, it'd be nice to bring in a guy like Bryant (who has 531 receptions for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns in his career) or Maclin (514 career receptions for 6,835 yards and 49 touchdowns), but getting them engrained in what the team has been building since the offseason doesn't just happen at the flip of a switch.
"It's really hard. In baseball, they can move and you can slot a guy playing third base, and playing third base is no different if you're playing for the Houston Astros, the Cubs, the Braves — it doesn't matter. It's still third base. They might have little shifts, but at the end of the day it's still third base," Ballard said. "In football, the verbiage is different in the offense, the way that they want you to actually do what you have to do to be successful as a player might be a little bit different, and then from a timing and chemistry standpoint. So it's very difficult."
Ballard, however, won't completely rule out the possibility of signing a guy like Bryant or Maclin down the road, if they're still available.
Circumstances and the right team fit, of course, will dictate any of those decisions.
"If we get to a point that we think we need to reach out, those will be a couple guys that would be on the list," Ballard said.