INDIANAPOLIS –A battered Colts offense fought through several significant offensive injuries to finish the season 15th in total offense.
Continuity in the offensive system will be welcomed this offseason with the Colts heading into year two under Pep Hamilton's offense.
Yesterday, we broke down the quarterback and running back positions. Today, we look at the receivers, tight ends and offensive line.**
How will the Colts young receivers mesh with Reggie Wayne next season?**
When Reggie Wayne went down in Week 7 of the regular season, the loss was substantial.
Gone was a team-leading 106 catches and 1,355 receiving yards from 2012.
Consider that the rest of the receivers in 2012 combined for just 125 catches. And then there's Wayne's 1,355 yards, which was nearly 500 more than the second leading receiver.
Without the services of Wayne for the final nine games, guys needed to emerge and that's exactly what happened.
T.Y. Hilton turned in a career-year as his reps increased significantly down the stretch.
He caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards and was one of the leading catalysts for second half comebacks against Houston and Kansas City.
One would have to think that Wayne and Hilton will be the frontrunners at the receiver position next season.
But, as was learned in 2013, depth will once again be needed.
A trio of young receivers joined Hilton to steer the Colts offense through some rocky waters during the second half of the season.
Griff Whalen (24 catches for 259 yards), Da'Rick Rogers (14 catches for 192 yards) and LaVon Brazill (12 catches for 161 yards) all played critical roles in the Colts receiving department during the final month of the year.
Transfer that to 2014 and the Colts will have plenty of proven depth behind a pair of 1,000-yard receivers.STAT TO NOTE: T.Y. Hilton's 10 100-yard receiving games is the second most for any receiver after their first two NFL seasons since 1970.**
Will we see more two tight-end sets out of the Colts offense next year?**
During the 2013 OTAs, Chuck Pagano said he expected Coby Fleener to double his rookie production of 26 catches for 281 yards.
Fleener did just that (52 catches for 608 yards in 2013) but that came at the expense of losing Dwayne Allen after one game.
The Colts offense had to adapt without Allen.
Therefore, Pep Hamilton's emphasis on versatile tight ends was a bit hamstrung in 2013.
Having Allen back in the fold should allow for more two tight-end sets for the Colts and thus a balanced, unpredictable attack.
Both Jack Doyle and Weslye Saunders contributed in multiple roles and should still see some reps in Hamilton's system.
Hamilton has preached since day one that having versatile pieces on offense is a key and Allen showed exactly that in his rookie season as a productive run blocker and receiver.STAT TO NOTE: Fleener's 11.7 yards per reception last season is the highest for a Colts tight end (minimum 10 catches) since the 2006 season.
How will the offensive line differ in 2014?
After a stretch of seven straight weeks of the same starting offensive line, the Colts saw a handful of combinations in the lineup over the final month of the year.
The interior of the line saw constant movement with seven different players all starting at least two games in 2013.
Tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus played nearly every snap of this past season. Those two are firmly entrenched into the tackle spots for the foreseeable future.
The interior is where the uncertainties lie with injuries, 2013 rookies and players approaching free agency (Jeff Linkenbach and Mike McGlynn) all factors that must be weighed heading into 2014.
-At guard, Donald Thomas played just 70 offensive snaps last season after he suffered a season-ending injury early in Week Two.
-Rookie Hugh Thornton started 12 of the final 14 regular season games at Thomas' left guard spot.
-The right guard spot saw a combination of Linkenbach, McGlynn and Joe Reitz see action.
-When starting center Samson Satele was sidelined for three games this year, McGlynn slid over to the middle of the line.
-Undrafted rookie Xavier Nixon was also thrown into the fray at a guard position that he did not play during his collegiate career at Florida.
With Thomas coming back from injury, rookies (Thornton and Khaled Holmes) having a full offseason and the pending decisions on current/potential free agents, the Colts offensive line should be improved in 2014.STAT TO NOTE: The Colts averaged 4.3 yards per rush attempt in 2013, which is the highest total the team has achieved since the 2001 season.