INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Reich had some facts confirmed for him this past weekend at the Indianapolis Colts' rookie minicamp.
He mentioned how the team's newest guards, Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, looked every bit the part with their size and their power; how Kemoko Turay flashed off the edge of the Colts' defensive line.
But an offensive-minded head coach like Reich couldn't help but pay especially close attention to his newest weapon; the guy who could very well take "versatility" to a new level for this new Colts offense.
"Obviously Nyheim," Reich told reporters on Saturday, "his speed and his quickness shows up."
Nyheim Hines, the Colts' fourth-round pick out of N.C. State, seemingly had the ball in his hands more than any other player during the Colts' rookie minicamp practices, giving Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni their first opportunity to test the waters, so to speak, with what they feel he can add to a scheme that will be much more up-tempo; much more aggressive.
Reich said it's clear that Hines has all the tools needed to play all over the field for the Colts.
"One of the things that you have to have to have position versatility is you have to have high football intelligence," Reich said. "You have to be able to move and play a lot of positions and move around and play fast. (It's) very evident that he's very intelligent, besides being a 4.3 speed guy."
That aforementioned athleticism certainly shows on the field. Hines ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which topped all running backs in the event — including No. 2-overall pick Saquon Barkley.
But the fact that Hines is able to mix that speed and running ability with his skills as a pass catcher — he started out his college career as a slot receiver — makes him especially valuable, Reich said.
"The other thing that he flashed (Friday) was he makes a catch on a crossing route that's a low ball, it's a little bit behind him, and he catches it with ease and without breaking stride. He's a running back doing that," Reich said of Hines. "That was kind of a little bit of an unusual catch for a guy who is known as a running back to make with that much ease."
That ability to make plays as a pass catcher is simply going to be an expectation of all Colts running backs moving forward. In fact, other than being solid as a pass protector — and, presumably, their ability to execute run plays — making plays as a receiver, Reich said, is a top priority.
"They have to be (a big part of the passing game)," Reich said. "But that is, first and foremost, with protection. But then really we break them out of the formation a bunch and move them around."
That's what makes Reich so excited about Hines, who can help the Colts "stay one step ahead of the defense" — whether he has the ball in his hands or not.
"(We're) trying to create mismatches, trying to get coverage indicators, trying to give the quarterback information," Reich said. "You can move the back around sometimes, and by moving the back around, the defense has to make certain adjustments. So it's not always just to get him a mismatch, sometimes it's to get the quarterback information to accelerate his vision and the read that can help him get the ball to somebody else."