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Colts Daily Notebook: Michael Pittman Jr. Is Emerging As A Top Playmaker For Frank Reich, Carson Wentz

Michael Pittman Jr. has 191 receiving yards over his last two games, in which he’s become a go-to target for Carson Wentz. 

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Frank Reich's offensive philosophy has a couple of pillars: One is spread the ball around. But another is to ride the hot hand. 

Lately, Michael Pittman Jr. has been that hot hand. 

Pittman was targeted 12 times in each of the Colts' last two games, catching 14 passes for 191 yards. He's only the second player in the Reich era to have consecutive games of 12+ targets (T.Y. Hilton, 2018) and became the first Colts player to have 12+ targets in a game since Eric Ebron hit that mark in Week 9 of the 2019 season. 

And having consecutive games with 12+ targets is a relatively rare event in Colts franchise history. Pittman is one of seven players to hit that mark, joining Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Jessie Hester, Reggie Langhorne and Hilton. 

"He's running good routes right now," coach Frank Reich said. "I feel like he brings some emotional energy and toughness to our team. When he gets the ball in his hands, we feel something as a team. And so we're going to continue to spread it around but we certainly are making an effort to get him the ball."

Pittman was one of the first receivers quarterback Carson Wentz threw with after being traded from the Philadelphia Eagles. Their rapport steadily grew over the months but has taken off these last two weeks, with Wentz trusting the 2020 second-round pick to make plays every time he throws the ball his way. 

"He's a competitor," Wentz said. "I love getting the ball in his hands. Seeing him run after the catch and compete in some of those contested catch situations, he's a reliable guy. He's going to be where he needs to be on time, create separation and win those contested catches more often than he won't. Definitely a reliable target that I think is going to keep getting better and better and him and I are going to continue to build our chemistry more and more as we go." 

Wednesday's practice report

Reich said on Monday his hope for Wentz would be to be "one day ahead" of where he was last week this week, meaning he wouldn't practice Wednesday but would participate Thursday and Friday. (Wentz only practiced Friday of last week.)

But Wentz was out there on Wednesday taking limited reps in what was an encouraging sign of the quarterback's progress from suffering sprains to both his ankles Week 2 against the Los Angeles Rams. 

"I was not in that place by any means last week," Wentz said. "Came out of the game relatively unscathed with that, so it's continuing to heal and be in a better place every day. 

"… Credit to the training staff. I think they did a great job of helping get me out there but also just helping me stay positive because obviously it was looking pretty dim early in the week. I was actually surprised myself looking at where I was and how quickly I was able to recover and be good enough to go. So credit to the training staff for sure."

Other Colts injury updates:

  • Reich said he's "not optimistic" about left guard Quenton Nelson being available this weekend against the Miami Dolphins but said the Colts are not ready to rule him out just yet. 
  • The Colts are still evaluating defensive end Kwity Paye, who did not practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury. 
  • Quarterback Sam Ehlinger returned to practice on Wednesday, opening a 21-day window for him to be activated off injured reserve.

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