Wide Receiver/Tight End Burning Questions Heading Into Colts Training Camp
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INDIANAPOLIS – All the questions the Colts face heading into their 2018 Training Camp will see answers develop in front of fans at Grand Park.
On Wednesday, July 25, the Colts will report to work in Westfield for three and a half weeks, with a joint practice session against the Baltimore Ravens concluding things on Saturday, Aug. 18.
Over the next week and a half, 1070TheFan.com will take a look at the “Burning Questions” for all position groups heading into the 2018 Training Camp.
Here’s a look at the wide receiver burning questions with Training Camp nearing:
-Will T.Y. Hilton get back to being a Pro Bowl performer?
After leading the league in receiving in 2016, Hilton finished last year with just 966 yards.
Hilton did average 16.9 yards per catch in 2017, but caught 34 fewer balls.
Clearly, Hilton was hindered, with heavy defensive attention assigned to him, while also not having the same high-level rapport with Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett.
How Hilton went production wise in 2017 typically was how the Colts went in terms of win/loss.
In 3 of the Colts’ 4 wins last season, he had at least 150 receiving yards.
In the 12 losses, Hilton finished with just 1 game of more than 57 yards.
For a more consistent Hilton, the Colts need steadier quarterback play, while also having their No. 1 receiver impact the game in other ways than just the massive chunk play.
Hilton is leaner heading into his 7th NFL season and the Colts are still going to try and use his big play ability to keep defenses honest.
STAT TO NOTE: Through 6 NFL seasons, T.Y. Hilton ranks 12th in league history with 6,827 yards.
-Are Chester Rogers and Ryan Grant enough to complement T.Y. Hilton?
Before Ryan Kelly, it was the center position searching for consistency.
Before Frank Gore, it was the running back group.
Now, it’s the depth at receiver after T.Y. Hilton.
The Colts have struggled mightily to find consistent production behind their Pro Bowl receiver.
In 2018, they decided to let Donte Moncrief walk in free agency, thus betting on Ryan Grant (just 1 season of more than 23 catches in his 4 years in the league) and Chester Rogers (42 career catches in 2 NFL seasons).
Chris Ballard has said before that the need for really premier wideout talent isn’t necessary, if you have enough playmakers around that group.
That’s debatable when talking about the Colts, considering what they have at those other positions.
Grant and Rogers are going to get plenty of chances to halt the ineffective stink that has grown around the wideout depth in recent years.
STAT TO NOTE: Besides Hilton, Chester Rogers is the only other wideout on the roster who Andrew Luck has thrown a pass to.
-Will rookies Reece Fountain and Deon Cain push for serious playing time?
Given the lack of proven bodies in front of them, these 2 rookies could wiggle their way into some reps on game day.
Cain caught the eye of the coaching staff on several occasions during the spring offseason program.
For the Colts to really feel better about their wideout group moving forward, they need for (at least) 1 of these 2 guys to entrench themselves.
Hilton isn’t getting any younger (he’ll be 29 in November) and the likes of Grant and Rogers are free agents in 2019 (unrestricted for Grant and restricted for Rogers).
Both Fountain and Cain bring a combination of size and speed that the Colts are currently lacking.
These 2 names merit some close watching when August rolls around.
STAT TO NOTE: Deon Cain had 20 touchdown receptions in 3 seasons at Clemson.
-How much will the Colts rely on multiple tight end groupings in 2018?
The expectation is a lot.
Frank Reich loves the depth of this position group (one that will inevitably have to cut a couple of intriguing names).
We saw in the spring how the Colts would love to use Eric Ebron split out as a detached receiver at times.
The reliable Jack Doyle is still going to be a much-needed security blanket for Andrew Luck.
And you still have some interesting case studies in Ross Travis, Erik Swoope, Mo Alie-Cox and Darrell Daniels.
Unlike the recent NFL trend of more and more 3-wide receiver personnel groups, the Colts could turn back the clock a bit with their multi-tight end looks.
STAT TO NOTE: Jack Doyle finished last season 2nd in the NFL among tight ends with 80 receptions.