Colts looking at veteran help at WR
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The possible veteran presence behind the Indianapolis Colts’ top-tier wide receivers no longer is on the roster, but that might change.
After the team waived veteran Josh Boyce Tuesday, coach Chuck Pagano revealed the Colts are in the market for a replacement that possesses some level of NFL experience. Earlier in training camp, veteran Brian Tyms was waived-injured.
While remaining optimistic one of the young prospects eventually will emerge, Pagano admitted “there’s some guys out there that we’re looking at as well.’’
That’s a clear indication the team isn’t content to wait for one or two of the eight candidates on the roster with zero NFL catches to separate himself from the pack and provide reliable depth behind T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett.
That list consists of return specialist Quan Bray, rookies MeKale McKay, Chester Rogers, Tevaun Smith, Danny Anthrop and Marcus Leak, and Josh Stangby.
A Tuesday roster move simply changed a name on the depth chart, not add experience to it. The team signed Andrew Opoku and waived Andre Debose. Opoku is a 6-4, 225-pounder who bounced between receiver (four receptions, 65 yards, one TD) to linebacker (19 tackles, two fumble recoveries) at Delaware from 2012-14.
The Colts likely will carry at least five receivers on the 53-man active roster.
While it’s possible the team will wait until roster cuts begin – the first cut from 90 to 75 is Aug. 30 followed by the final cut to 53 Sept. 3 – it’s more likely the team will sign a veteran prior to that.
In Saturday’s preseason opener at Buffalo, Smith had three receptions for 34 yards and Rogers two catches for 63 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown on which he broke a one-on-one tackle.
“You’ve got to have playmakers,’’ Pagano said. “There’s skill out there. Guys have got length. Guys have got speed. A guy like Chester, who’s got playmaking ability, huge play in the last ballgame.
“Leak is a guy that hasn’t been available because of injury, but there’s another guy that’s done some good things; big, strong guy. (McKale)’s a big, long guy that can make plays. Smitty is a good player.
“There’s a good group there. We’re just kind of waiting for somebody to kind of separate themselves. We’re just waiting to see how that thing unfolds.’’
Signing a veteran free agent at this point of the preseason carries risks. Nearly 2,900 players currently are under contract. Those that aren’t, are available for a reason.
“Name’’ free agents include Brian Hartline, Hakeem Nicks, Dwayne Bowe and Roddy White. The team is understandably cautious of investing in an aging veteran after whiffing on 34-year-old Andre Johnson last year.
While the coaching and personnel staffs consider their options, players tend to their own business.
Smith is a 6-2, 205-pounder out of Iowa who made plays throughout camp. With the Hawkeyes, he appeared in 47 games and managed 102 receptions for 1,500 yards and seven touchdowns.
The objective, he insisted, is having tunnel vision when a player in the position meeting room – Tyms or Boyce – is released.
“Sometimes you do think about it: ‘They got rid of Josh.’’’ he said. “But at the same time, you’ve got to step up. You’ve got to do something. You’ve got to show why you belong.
“You do it in practice and do it in games. You have to prove to yourself and prove to your coaches you can do it.’’
It’s been a competitive group, but one that features supportive players.
“That’s the nature of the business,’’ said Smith, who must bolster his chance at earning a roster spot by contributing on special teams. “You’re not going to hold anything against anybody else. We’re trying to get each other better.
“The last man standing is the last man standing. It’s really only the strong will survive.’’