INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts entered the season with talent at wide receiver . It was also their thinnest position behind Reggie Wayne, Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton because LaVon Brazill was suspended the first four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and nobody stepped up to be the team's fourth receiver.
Wayne’s season is over with a torn ACL, leaving the Colts trying to find a way to fill the void.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is likely burning up his cell phone minutes looking for a way to acquire another receiver on the roster.
But for the time being, it truly is "next man up" -- the Colts' staple statement when a player goes down.
“We'll see who steps up, and we're more than confident with the guys we have here,” quarterback Andrew Luck said. “They’ve done a heck of a job, and they’ll continue to do so.”
There’s obviously no replacing Wayne, a future Hall of Famer, so the Colts will have to do it by committee for the time being.
Heyward-Bey will likely be the No. 1 receiver on the Colts’ depth chart. But that won’t mean anything if he can’t catch the ball. He made up for a rough game against the San Diego Chargers in Week 6 by having four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown against the Denver Broncos on Sunday. Heyward-Bey added a 30-yard run off a reverse. Heyward-Bey, however, has only 190 yards receiving this season. Those numbers won't cut it.
Hilton has been the Colts’ most explosive receiver of the season. He’s averaging a team-high 15.3 yards per catch, including a career-long 73 yards against Seattle in Week 5. He’s been the second-best receiver behind Wayne.
Brazill is the wild card of the group. He’s been back two weeks since returning from his suspension, and he’s had more of an impact on special teams than with catching passes. Brazill has yet to catch a pass.
The same can be said about David Reed, who was inactive against the Broncos. He’s returned 11 kickoffs for 276 yards but he's been non-existent playing behind Wayne, Heyward-Bey, Hilton and Brazill at receiver.
Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rogers are both on the practice squad.
“Again, it will be next man up, and they’re going to have to raise their level of play,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Again, you can’t replace [Wayne], but somebody will rise up. Just like when we lose anybody else.”