COMMENTARY | Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has a cannon for an arm and can thread a needle with a football, but he needs someone to catch his passes. A look at the Colts' roster reveals a lot of unfamiliar names but some young, interesting talent at the wide receiver position.
With the signing of undrafted free agents Rodrick Rumble and Lanear Sampson on April 30, the Colts now have 10 wide receivers on board. Of those 10, only two have more than a year's worth of NFL experience, making the receiver position one to watch when training camp opens in Anderson, Ind. this summer.
Reggie Wayne, of course, is the patriarch of this group. He'll suit up for his 13th season in blue and white, and despite the fact that he'll turn 35 during the 2013 campaign, he's got plenty of fuel left in the tank to build on the 106 receptions, 1,355 yards and five scores he posted last year.
Darrius Heyward-Bey was signed by the Colts after the Oakland Raiders released him in March. The Raiders famously reached to draft DHB No. 7 overall out of Maryland in 2009, and the speedster's NFL career has been underwhelming thus far, marred with injuries and substandard route-running ability. Now we'll get the opportunity to see if Heyward-Bey can thrive in a more prolific offense than has been seen in Oakland since Rich Gannon played.
One of my favorite receivers from last season is T.Y. Hilton. At just 5-foot-9 and 183 pounds, Hilton looks like a toothpick among sycamores on the field, but he can fly, turning in big play after big play on his way to 50 receptions for 861 yards and seven touchdowns during his rookie season. I'm excited to see what he can do--and how the coaching staff utilizes him--in 2013.
I'll be stunned if any of these three guys fail to make the 53-man roster.
That's about where the training camp certainty ends, however, leaving seven wideouts battling to make the team.
One receiver I'm looking forward to watching this summer is Jeremy Kelley. He's the polar opposite of Hilton: Kelley is enormous. The rookie out of Maine stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs in at 225 pounds--comparable to the size of tight end Coby Fleener--and he brings a number of intriguing qualities to the team. I wrote about him in more detail back in January, if you're interested.
LaVon Brazill will look to build on his rookie year in Indianapolis, while Griff Whalen will try to see his first regular season action in a Colts uniform. Whalen signed with the team a year ago as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford--where he was a teammate of Luck and Fleener--but broke his foot during the preseason and was placed on injured reserve.
Joining Whalen in an attempt to come back from injury and make his mark in the NFL is Jabin Sambrano, a second-year receiver out of Montana.
Nathan Palmer came to the Colts from the San Francisco 49ers practice squad last season and appeared in five games for Indy. The Elkhart, Ind. native will look for a more substantive role with the team in 2013.
That brings us to the most recent signings: Sampson and Rumble.
Sampson, 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, played collegiately at Baylor, where he was a teammate of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon. He's got decent bulk, nice speed and good hands, finishing his college career with a 43-game reception streak--tied for the second-longest active streak in the nation.
Rumble intrigues me, and not just because of his cool name. He's 6-foot-2 and 201 pounds out of Idaho State, where he ended his days in Pocatello as the Bengals' all-time leading receiver with 223 receptions for 2,863 yards and 17 touchdowns.
After his illustrious college career at the same school that produced Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Merril Hoge, Rumble's name is all over the ISU record books. It remains to be seen if his FCS success will translate to the NFL, but No. 11 is one player I'll be watching closely this summer.
It should be a fun preseason with wide open competition at the wide receiver spot.
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