Rookie Donte Moncrief Emerges With Career Game

Intro: With Reggie Wayne’s presence missing on the field against the Steelers, the Colts needed another pass catcher to emerge. Donte Moncrief answered that call in his best game as an NFL rookie.

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INDIANAPOLIS – When Reggie Wayne first graced an NFL playing field, Donte Moncrief was fresh off of celebrating his eighth birthday.

Yes, eighth birthday.

Now in 2014, the two are teammates with the Colts and Wayne, the elder statesmen by nearly 15 years, had some wisdom for the rookie wide receiver needing to step up with No. 87 just an observer on Sunday.

"Be ready to play, be ready to come out and make those big plays because they are going to come."

They did come on Sunday and the 21-year old Moncrief was more than ready to make them.

Moncrief hauled in seven catches for a career-high 113 yards and scored his first NFL touchdown with a leaping grab of 31 yards late in the third quarter.

"I just knew I had to step up," Moncrief said of his game against the Steelers.

"I was just waiting for that moment. I got the chance and I had to come out and make some big plays for my team. That's what I did."

Last week, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton shared the confidence he had in the team's third-round pick.

Hamilton was definitely a fan of Moncrief's all offseason long, praising the talented SEC product for how well he's grasped the complex offensive system.

"He's ahead of schedule," Hamilton said of Moncrief last week.

"He's a guy that we feel like at any given moment we can plug him in and he'll be ready to go out there and perform at the level that's expected."

Coming into Sunday, Moncrief had played sparingly but when he got action Andrew Luck wasn't afraid to turn his way.

Moncrief's role skyrocketed to 40 of the team's 66 offensive snaps against the Steelers and he received the most targets (12) of any Colts skill player on Sunday.

"He's a heck of a receiver," Luck says of the 6-2, 221-pound pass catcher.

"I don't think it was too surprising to the guys who are in this locker room how we played. He's shown it in practice and in training camp. He prepares like a veteran. He approaches things like a vet. So happy for his success."

It's those traits that can at times be difficult to measure through the draft process.

Teams saw the size (6-2, 221 pounds) and speed (4.4 40-yard dash) of Moncrief but could the "kid" handle life at the professional level, after moving away from family in Mississippi for the first time in his life.

Sunday was Moncrief's inaugural professional test and he showed why coaches weren't afraid to throw him into the fray and expect the production that came.

"It's a testament to (Moncrief's) work ethic and him coming to practice every single day since he became a Colts and working at his craft and practicing and preparing like a starter," Chuck Pagano said.

"It was great to see him come alive."

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