INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni today spoke to local reporters via video conference. What's the latest on the team's efforts to replace injured slot receiver Parris Campbell, a career day from tight end Mo Alie-Cox and why Nyheim Hines had so few touches against the Vikings?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» The Colts won't turn to just one player to replace what's lost in the slot with Parris Campbell out: The excitement level for Parris Campbell entering the season was through the roof for the Colts, who caught just enough glimpses at his playmaking ability in what turned out to be an injury-plagued rookie season last year that they couldn't wait to get him back and fully healthy entering Year 2. That excitement only grew after a Week 1 performance by Campbell that included six receptions for 71 yards, as well as one rushing attempt for nine yards.
But the injury bug would strike once again early in last Sunday's Week 2 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, as Campbell, at the end of a seven-yard run play along the sideline, would injure the MCL and PCL in his left knee.
Head coach Frank Reich said Monday that Campbell, who was placed on injured reserve today, isn't necessarily done for the season, but that any evaluations on his potential playing status would have to be made down the road. So for now, the Colts have to once again move on without the electric Campbell in their lineup, and Sirianni said it's not just going to come down to one player taking on his role.
"I don't think when you lose a player like Parris – an explosive guy like Parris – it's never just a, 'This guy goes in for him,'" Sirianni said. "Yes, Zach (Pascal) is playing the 'F', but it's who does what well? Can Nyheim (Hines) do some stuff in the slot? Yes. Can our tight ends do some things in the slot? Yes. Can T.Y. (Hilton) do some things in the slot? Absolutely. Can Michael Pittman do some things in the slot? Absolutely."
Sirianni said for now, Pascal will be labeled as the Colts' primary slot receiver, but he's counting on a group effort to make plays out of that spot.
"Zach might get his letter as far as, 'Hey, he's the slot receiver.' We call it the 'F.' He gets the 'F' tag, but it's a by-committee thing," Sirianni said. "Zach will do a great job and everyone just has to do their share to pick up the slack when we lost Parris."
» Sirianni gained even more confidence in Mo Alie-Cox last Sunday, and he didn't think that was possible heading into the game: When it was apparent starter (and two-time Pro Bowler) Jack Doyle wasn't going to be able to play in last Sunday's game against the Vikings as he worked his way through knee and ankle injuries, the Colts immediately turned to Mo Alie-Cox to pick up the slack at the tight end position.
It's not like he's a complete newcomer to the team — this is his third full-time NFL season after entering the league brand new to football in 2017 following a standout basketball career at VCU — but Alie-Cox, to this point, had never really had to take on a full starter's load in any one game, thanks to guys like Doyle and former Colts tight end Eric Ebron's presence in the lineup.
Sirianni, Reich and quarterback Philip Rivers entered last Sunday's Vikings matchup with tons of confidence in Alie-Cox's ability to step in and produce, and that's exactly what he did, to the tune of five receptions for 111 yards — both single-game career-highs.
Stock up: Alie-Cox.
"We all had a ton of confidence in Mo, but sometimes it is – you go out there and see him play that way and it's just the confidence level, it grows," Sirianni said. "I think that's definitely what we saw. I had the utmost confidence in Mo Alie-Cox. On Sunday before the game I would have said, 'I don't know if it can be any higher.' Well you go out and do something like he just did and your confidence even gets higher in a player and I know that player's confidence gets higher as well."
While Doyle's immediate status for this Sunday's Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets isn't yet known, the Colts are ecstatic with the way Alie-Cox was able to step right in and produce.
"Super happy for Mo on how he played and how he has developed," Sirianni said.
» Don't worry, fantasy football team owners — Nyheim Hines is still a major part of the Colts' offensive plans: Hines played a major role in Indy's 2020 opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday; in all, he logged 39 offensive snaps (53 percent) and had seven carries for 28 yards and a touchdown, and led the offense with eight receptions for 45 yards and another score through the air.
So with a season-ending Achilles injury suffered by starting running back Marlon Mack in that Jaguars game, coupled with the fact the Colts were going to have a rookie, Jonathan Taylor, as their starter moving forward at the position, many assumed Hines' role on offense would be increasing even more.
But last Sunday against the Vikings, Hines played just nine offensive snaps (12 percent), touching the ball one time — a four-yard reception in the second quarter (he also had four punt returns for 40 yards).
Is this a sign of things to come for Hines with Taylor — who had a terrific first-career start with 26 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown — now the starter? Inquiring fantasy minds want to know.
The simple answer is no, that's not the case. Hines is still a major part of the Colts' offense; Indy just utilized a little bit different gameplan against the Vikings.
"We need to get the ball to Nyheim. He's too good of a playmaker. So that is an emphasis and that is an emphasis each week," Sirianni said. "It just fell last week that he didn't get the touches.
"We know we can win a lot of different ways," Sirianni continued. "The main way we know we want to win is through the running game. Then everything comes off of that. Jonathan was carrying the ball. He was carrying the ball well. When Jordan (Wilkins) went in, he was carrying the ball well (nine carries for 40 yards). That's just the way it kind of lied last week, but definitely it is always in our plans to get Nyheim the ball and be a big part of this offense. It just didn't work that way last week."