INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni spoke with local reporters today via video conference. What did he have to say about how the team will replace injured tight end Trey Burton's role, T.Y. Hilton's big-play ability, what he's seen development-wise out of rookie quarterback Jacob Eason and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Colts will utilize a "by-committee" approach while tight end Trey Burton works his way back from a calf injury: Sirianni and the Colts' offensive coaches are no stranger to tweaking the playbook when it comes to the tight end position; two years ago, Pro Bowler Jack Doyle missed a significant amount of time, and last year, Eric Ebron was placed on injured reserve, ending his season, in late-November.
The same logic applies now after Burton, who signed a free agent deal with the Colts this offseason, went down with a calf injury during Saturday's scrimmage at Lucas Oil Stadium. Burton's availability for Indy's Week 1 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars is in question, but the Colts will roll with what they've got for the time being.
"Trey will be greatly missed because he's a great playmaker, but we live with that 'next man up' mentality," Sirianni said. "We have to adjust, otherwise we'll be left standing still, and obviously that's not good. It'll be by committee and by player."
While Mo Alie-Cox could see added responsibilities in certain packages, Sirianni said Burton's role could also be played by someone like slot receiver Parris Campbell or pass-catching running back Nyheim Hines, if needed.
» A long-bomb touchdown play to T.Y. Hilton on Saturday only confirmed what Sirianni already knew: Saturday's scrimmage produced a familiar sight: T.Y. Hilton catching a long bomb down the Lucas Oil Stadium sidelines and celebrating in the end zone after a big-play touchdown.
But that 47-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Hilton, for some, might've also been a confirmation that the veteran wide receiver, after two injury-plagued seasons, is perhaps back to his old tricks.
For Sirianni, however, the play was just a confirmation of what he already knew.
"It was great to see him go out there and out-run him, but I knew he was back," Sirianni said. "You see the burst he has, even if it's not a completion deep on a 50-yarder. My concern was not there — I still see the same T.Y. Hilton: explosive, fast, puts great feat into the defense."
Sirianni has maintained that the offense has always and will continue to run through Hilton.
"Sure it was great to see that play, (but) I don't know if my confidence could be any higher in T.Y. Hilton than it already was," he said.
» Sirianni has seen lots of promising development out of rookie quarterback Jacob Eason: Selected in the fourth round this year out of Washington, Eason was coveted for his elite arm strength with the hope that he could develop his all-around game learning not only from veteran quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett, but also from head coach Frank Reich, himself a longtime NFL quarterback and position coach.
Splitting third-team reps throughout training camp with Chad Kelly, Eason, according to Sirianni, made some significant strides forward in his development.
"I saw great arm strength, to be able to make throws outside the numbers; I see decision making continually getting better and better and better when he's dropping back to pass the football," Sirianni said of Eason.
Perhaps most importantly, Sirianni said, is Eason's improvements with his pre-snap responsibilities.
"I keep seeing improved (ability to) get us into the right play, get people into the right position, to do their job, handling the different looks the defense gives us," Sirianni said. "And that's very exciting.
"Physically the arm strength, the mental part of the game, is coming along," Sirianni continued. "That's very important, and (I'm) excited about that with Jacob's development."