INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts this offseason utilized free agency and the draft to add talent and depth at wide receiver.
But the anticipated return of a young, talented playmaker from a season-ending injury a year ago essentially gave the Colts another de facto "newcomer" at the position heading into 2019.
And now that player, Deon Cain, could very well see his role expand significantly, beginning in Sunday's Week 2 matchup against the Tennessee Titans.
With No. 2 wide receiver Devin Funchess being placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery for a clavicle injury suffered in the Colts' Week 1 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, Cain appears to be the next man up for head coach Frank Reich and the Indy offense.
Cain certainly feels for Funchess, who could return from IR later this season; but the second-year receiver is also confident in his ability to pick up pace and make big plays moving forward.
"Sorry to hear for my boy, man. He was a great contributor for us, and you see he put up great numbers for us," Cain said Tuesday. "And now it's just really the next man up when it comes to that type of situation. So I just want to go out and be confident throughout this week, but hopefully it's a speedy recovery for my boy."
Cain looked like he was going to be a major contributor as a rookie heading into the 2018 season after putting in a sensational first couple weeks at training camp. The Clemson product would have to pump the brakes, however, after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the team's preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
One year later, after an intense recovery and rehab process, Cain was back to his playmaking ways, both on the practice field and during the Colts' first three preseason games, when he caught a combined 12 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown — a sensational 46-yard catch-and-run play against the Chicago Bears.
Cain officially made his NFL debut last Sunday against the Chargers, logging 11 snaps, all lined up out wide, and catching two passes for 35 yards, including a 25-yard reception late in the second quarter where he beat cornerback Brandon Facyson in one-on-one coverage, turned, found the ball, lept in the air and hauled in the back shoulder pass from quarterback Jacoby Brissett.
Those kinds of plays are routinely expected from a No. 2 wide receiver, and with added opportunities, Cain believes he's up to the task.
"I'm capable of doing it all," Cain said. "It doesn't really matter. I'm here just to make plays, so anything you need me to do, I'm able to do it.
"Now it's time for me to step up and make plays."
Reich also has plenty of confidence in Cain's ability to take on a larger role, starting Sunday against the Titans.
"Honestly we like Deon for a lot of the same reasons that we like Funch (Funchess)," Reich said. "Yeah, they are different types of receivers but Deon we feel like is a big-play receiver. I mean he has that in his game and I just think this is a great opportunity for him."