INDIANAPOLIS – It was almost business as usual Wednesday in the running backs neighborhood.
One of the Indianapolis Colts’ 2018 draft pick was sorting through his items at the same cubicle in the locker, but it wasn’t Nyheim Hines, a 4th-round pick that year. He left Indy Tuesday evening after being traded to the Buffalo Bills.
It was Jordan Wilkins, who followed Hines in round 5.
“A lot of emotions,’’ said Wilkins, who was signed to the practice squad. “Been a long year. It’s almost like a one-year reunion.’’
Taking Hines cubicle seemed appropriate.
“I’m going to take good care of it,’’ Wilkins said. “I wanted to see him, but I got in late and obviously he went out last night.
“One in and one out. Hope the best for him.’’
Wilkins was part of the Colts’ backfield mix until being waived Oct. 30, 2021. He had appeared in just four games, seeing one snap on offense and 45 on special teams. He signed with the Tennessee Titans, but got on the field for just 13 special teams snaps in their final game at Houston.
“It’s good to see everybody in the building,’’ Wilkins said. “It’s almost like I’ve got some unfinished business.’’
He still was coming to grips with being back in the place his NFL career began.
“It’s a crazy business, man,’’ Wilkins said. “I left here last year young and didn’t know much. But I’ve learned a lot through a year. It’s a business and you’ve just gotta go after your best opportunity.
“I’ve got an opportunity here and I’ve just got to make the most of it.’’
Wilkins’ addition adds depth to a position that needs it in the aftermath of Hines’ departure and the uncertain status of Jonathan Taylor. The team’s leading rusher aggravated an injury to his right ankle in Sunday’s loss to Washington and did not practice Wednesday.
“Hopeful that he can make some progress this week and we’ll take it day-by-day,’’ coach Frank Reich said.
Complicating matters to some degree are the mid-week additions of Wilkins and Zack Moss, who was part of the Hines’ trade. Moss did not practice Wednesday.
It’s entirely possible Deon Jackson and Phillip Lindsay will serve as the primary backs Sunday when the Colts meet the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. That was the case in the 12-9 overtime win at Denver in week 5 when Taylor was out with the ankle injury and Hines exited the game after three plays with a concussion.
“Just come in and try to do what I do,’’ Wilkins said. “I’ve been here four years and just make plays, be available and just keep building on what I’ve already done.’’
Somewhat surprisingly, it was Wilkins, not Hines, who was a bigger factor in the run game from 2018-20.
Wilkins started four of 45 games and rushed for 951 yards and four touchdowns on 195 carries. Hines, who was much more active in the passing game, rushed 226 times for 893 yards and seven TDs in 48 games, eight as a starter.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.