After Peyton Manning was released by the Colts in 2012, the entire franchise went into rebuilding mode with hopes of maintaining a strong team even after the Manning Era came to an end.
With the release of Manning also came the release of the veteran wide receivers that played under the legendary quarterback, such as Joseph Addai and Dallas Clark.
Fortunately for the Colts, Reggie Wayne had no plans of leaving the team. Since the beginning of the Andrew Luck Era, Wayne has been a popular target for the quarterback from Stanford. Sure Luck and Wayne will never have the connection that Wayne had with Manning, but nonetheless Luck and Wayne have accomplished many feats in just two seasons of being a QB-WR duo.
Now comes the part that makes every Colts fan quiver with frustration, the season-ending ACL injury to Reggie Wayne in week 7 during the team’s memorable victory over the Denver Broncos.
Ever since Wayne’s injury, the Colts offense has been testing out their wide receivers to see who would be Luck’s main target during Wayne’s absence. However, the team is still interested in the rebuilding of the franchise and may also be preparing for life after Reggie Wayne.
TY Hilton put up some impressive stats in his debut season in 2012, which he has managed to keep relatively paralleled to his performance this season as well. However, a shoulder injury last month against the Cardinals has impeded his game-play as of late. Nonetheless, Hilton still leads the team in receiving, and could just be a tremendous asset to the team in the future.
In the last few weeks, the Colts have experimented with some unfamiliar faces in the WR category.
Da’Rick Rogers has seen some playtime in the last few weeks after being added to the active roster and playing in the last four games. Of the four games he has played in, Rogers impressed Colts fans the most in their week 14 clash against Cincinnati where Rogers finished the game with 109 receiving yards catching six of nine passes, and even managing to score two touchdowns.
Rogers may not be putting up the same numbers as Wayne or Hilton, but let’s face it, it’s only his first season in the NFL. However, with a little more practice, I feel Rogers could find himself starting for the Colts offense one day.
Finally, we have seen the wide receiver race continue with Griff Whalen. Like Rogers, Whalen has also seen several moments of game-play in the last few weeks, playing in eight games this season and being targeted 25 times.
While it may not have been obvious Whalen was even playing due to his low numbers, the last two weeks have seen more Griff Whalen than before, especially in today’s victory over the 11-4 Chiefs.
Whalen completed four of five passes last week and even had one touchdown against the Texans. Though finishing the game without a touchdown today, Whalen still stepped up his game and caught seven of eight passes grasping 80 receiving yards, his career high so far this season.
While the team and fans alike are looking forward to seeing Wayne come back next season, the need for future, post-Wayne wide receivers is still a concern for the team.
Who is going to be the next great wide receiver for the Colts?
As a Colts fan, I just hope we don’t have to worry about replacing Reggie Wayne just yet.