Colts All-Pro Special Teamer and wideout Ashton Dulin was placed on injured reserve earlier this week with a toe injury. With Dulin guaranteed to miss at least the next four weeks, how will the Colts approach their wide receiver room until Week Ten?
Ashton Dulin Placed on Injured Reserve
Although Dulin is fourth on the Colts’ depth chart at receiver, he’s made the most of his opportunities thus far. The four-year veteran is fourth on the team in targets and third in receiving yards and first-down receptions. Dulin’s best game this year came against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week two. He caught five of his seven targets for 79 yards and had a carry that afternoon. This expanded role was mainly due to injuries sidelining Michael Pittman Jr and Alec Pierce, and so Dulin’s role progressively decreased in the following weeks. Despite this, the last thing the Colts’ offense needs to deal with is more injuries.
Colts injury news— WR Ashton Dulin to IR. Suffered the foot injury in Thursday's win in Denver. Keeps him out four games minimum. DT Chris Williams comes up from the practice squad, and the team officially signs offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe. — Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 11, 2022
Dulin will also be missed greatly on special teams. He was named to the Associated Press and Pro Football Focus All-Pro Second Team. Dulin took the field for at least 55% of Indianapolis’s special teams’ snaps in each of the four weeks prior to his injury.
Paging Parris Campbell
The Colts will look to former 2019 second-round pick Parris Campbell to step up in Dulin’s absence. Once thought to be the future playmaker on the Colts’ perimeter, Campbell has battled injuries throughout this year. Although he has been healthy this season, Colts fans are still awaiting his emergence. Through five weeks, Campbell has 11 receptions for 112 yards. The Ohio native and former Buckeye averages 10.5 yards per reception for his career. He’ll have these next four weeks without Dulin breathing down his back on the depth chart. Perhaps that comfort will position Campbell for a breakout performance.
Parris Campbell is arguably one of the most fit WRs in the NFL. Currently 1st team All-Cardio Weeks 1-5: * 187 routes run (leads team) * 14 targets * 7.49% TPRR * 0.60 YPRR Enough already. — Matthew Betz (@TheFantasyPT) October 7, 2022
Who Else Could Step Up for the Colts’ Offense?
Matt Ryan will likely lean on Pittman and Pierce throughout this game. He has built a connection with the rookie from Cinncinati, and I expect that Pierce, and not Pittman, will have the big game in Week Six. Outside of those two, Indianapolis can utilize the three talented tight ends on their roster to spread the ball around. Kylen Granson has proven to be a solid target underneath, and Jelani Woods pops up with the occasional big play. Mo-Alie Cox was the team’s best receiver in Week Four, and we could see a larger dose of him for the next few weeks.
The only other wide receiver on the active roster is Mike Strachan, who has three receptions for 59 yards this year. We’ll likely see more routes from Strachan, but it would be a surprise to see him significantly impact the passing game. The Colts added defensive tackle, Chris Williams, from the practice squad this week, but they do have a few options at the receiver should they run into more depth issues.
Former Houston Texan Keke Coutee is currently on the practice squad. Coutee, who caught 83 balls in his three years in Houston, has only one reception since joining Indianapolis in 2021. He returned kicks for the depleted Colts in week two.
Keke Coutee burns the defense for a large gain🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZLXcQzk8DC — Colts Militia (@coltsmilitia_) July 28, 2022
Finally, the Colts’ backfield is trending in the right direction going into Week Six. Nyheim Hines was a full participant in Friday’s practice, and Jonathan Taylor has been a limited participant since Thursday. Hines has been criminally underused in this offense, so perhaps a stint out wide could help him get into a rhythm. When all else fails, give Taylor the football. This blow to the wide receiver depth, paired with the struggles of the offensive line, might mean that the Colts are better suited to run the ball early and often for the next few weeks. If Taylor can get some momentum, his big play ability could open things up for the passing game.
One way or another, the Colts’ offense must find a way to improve. Dulin’s injury doesn’t help, but it does provide an opportunity for the next man to step up.
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