INDIANAPOLIS –In overcoming the loss of Reggie Wayne six games ago, the Colts found immediate success with T.Y. Hilton.
Hilton had 14 receptions for 251 yards and three scores in the first two games without Wayne, but subsequent defensive approaches kept him to five receptions in three straight games before he was held without a reception until the fourth quarter against Cincinnati.
While Coby Fleener has helped Hilton (who has battled through a shoulder ailment) in Wayne's absence, it was last week when LaVon Brazill and Da'Rick Rogers combined to catch nine-of-13 passes directed their way for 160 yards and four touchdowns.
Continued production by the duo only helps an offense looking for peak efficiency.
"It was great to see them make those plays," said Andrew Luck. "It will definitely help the team. I don't know if it's going to change things wholesale, but it's great for them to build that confidence. It will help T.Y. (Hilton). It will help DHB (Darrius Heyward-Bey). It will help the run game."
Brazill has missed two practices this week with a foot injury, and Indianapolis needs both he and Rogers to make last week's performance a trend.
It is something Fleener has been able to do this season. Two of his four games with at least five receptions have come after Wayne departed.
His eight-reception, 107-yard outing at Tennessee four games ago were career-highs, and two of his three longest receptions have been post-Wayne, too.
"It's exciting because it gives them affirmation that they're headed in the right direction," said Fleener of Rogers and Brazill. "If they keep working at practice, keep doing the right things stuff like that will happen."
Speaking locally this week, Reggie Wayne said he was happy to see Brazill score and play well because of what it means for the near future.
"I was very happy because you watch on film and there was times he was open and just didn't get his number called," said Wayne. "You tell him, 'Just continue to do your job. It's going to come your way and when it does, you just make the best of it.'
"He's one of those guys, when they have the ball in their hands, it's almost like a punt return mentality. He was able to produce. Hopefully he can build on that."
Brazill had 11 receptions and one score as a rookie, his current reception total this year. Continued second-year growth is a must.
Pagano said the rookie Rogers is taking advantage of a second chance the Colts are providing, and one key for him is handling success in the aftermath of last week's six-reception, 107-yard outing that included 69- and two-yard touchdowns.
"That's something that we'll continue to talk to him daily about," said Pagano.
Rogers acknowledges personal growth and maturation and understands getting to the NFL is tough and staying can be tougher.
"I think so," said Rogers. "It's a blessing to be here. Once you get here, it's an honor. It's definitely an opportunity, not a job or a career. You've got to fight for your job every day.
"I've grown here. I've learned how to handle…things. I'm excited. I think I'll do alright."
Wayne said recently he was not surprised the club stayed with the quartet of receivers it currently has, a group that includes Heyward-Bey. He sees their work daily in practice.
Rogers compares his relationship with Brazill like some he had with teammates in college, relationships that pushed competition and hard work.
"Most definitely," said Rogers on if he realizes the importance of the roles he and Brazill offer. "This team needs receivers on the outside to step up to open it up for T.Y. (Hilton) and (Coby) Fleener. Hopefully we can be those guys to do it."
Said Pep Hamilton, "It was exciting to see a young guy step in and make plays for us, in particular make big plays. We need more of that in our offense. We're excited about Da'Rick and what he can offer us."
PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate: DT-Ricky Jean Francois (foot), OT-Jeff Linkenbach (quad), C-Samson Satele (elbow), FB-Stanley Havili (knee), WR-LaVon Brazill (foot), NT-Aubrayo Franklin (rest), CB-Greg Toler (groin); Full Participation: LB-Robert Mathis (rest), OG-Hugh Thornton (neck).
Toler's status was downgraded from limited practice on Wednesday to out on Thursday.
Brazill missed a second day of work with a bruised foot that he said was stepped on in the first half last Sunday. "It's feeling better," said Brazill. "It's nothing major, a bruise on my foot. I should be out there Sunday. I feel confident. I'm waiting on the trainers and what the coaches are going to say."
"We don't know yet, but we do anticipate having him," said Hamilton on Brazill.