Heyward-Bey may have reduced role

INDIANAPOLIS – Darrius Heyward-Bey's time as the Indianapolis Colts' starting receiver could be numbered.

Coach Chuck Pagano didn't come out and directly say it during his press conference at the team's facility Monday evening, but he also didn't give a ringing endorsement when asked if he planned to stick with Heyward-Bey.

It was actually a read-between-the-lines response from Pagano.

"We've got four guys that are up at the receiver position, so we're going to do what's best for this team and gives us the best chance to win moving forward," the coach said.

That was a completely different tune from Pagano, who often spoke with confidence that Heyward-Bey would get on track earlier this season.

The final straw with Heyward-Bey may have happened when he dropped a wide-open pass from quarterback Andrew Luck in the third quarter of Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Colts signed Heyward-Bey, the No. 7 overall pick, in the 2009 draft in the offseason to start opposite of Reggie Wayne.

Heyward-Bey has been a major disappointment instead.

And it starts with his hands.

Heyward-Bey, who has five drops this season, has been targeted 59 times this season, but only has 27 receptions for 286 yards and a touchdown. The 59 targets is only one more than Wayne, whose season ended five games ago.

It's time for the Colts to give somebody else a shot at Heyward-Bey's snaps. They were looking for others to step up once Wayne went down with the torn ACL. Heyward-Bey obviously hasn't done that. He's got nine receptions since Wayne injured his knee Oct. 20.

It wouldn't be surprising if Da'Rick Rogers, who was active for the first time this season Sunday, takes away some of Heyward-Bey's snaps in Sunday's key game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Rogers drew a pass interference penalty on the only play he was targeted Sunday.

"When you saw Da'Rick come off the line of scrimmage and run right by a pretty damn good corner and draw that flag, you get excited about what the future holds for all those guys," Pagano said.