Colts face tough roster decision with WR battle

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The Indianapolis Colts have the majority of spots in the wide receiver room locked up entering the final game of the preseason on Friday, but there are still some tough decisions to make when it comes to the battle at the bottom of the depth chart.

It should be assumed that Michael Pittman Jr., T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal and Parris Campbell are locks to make the roster. That’s four spots already secured. It should also be assumed that the Colts will carry six wide receivers given the injuries that have hit the room over the years.

Making the decisions on those final two spots in the room will not be easy for head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard.

“It’s going to be tough, and we feel very confident in our receiver group. We have a lot of guys that can make plays, that we feel good about,” Reich told reporters Wednesday. “A lot of things factor into it including special teams, but then also the role that they play – certain guys you use in different ways. So that will be a tough decision.”

While the top-four spots in the room are locked up. There is an argument to be made that the fifth spot is all but guaranteed as well. Thanks to the emergence of rookie Mike Strachan, it will be difficult for the Colts to find reasons to cut him when rosters are reduced to 53 players.

Strachan has flashed the type of size and athleticism the Colts have coveted at the X-receiver position. He still has a long way to go, but the flashes he has shown provide a glimpse of what his future could be. Even some of the game’s greats have taken notice.

Seeing as the Colts shouldn’t risk sending Strachan through waivers in order to sneak him onto the practice squad, that leaves just one spot in the room open for competition entering the preseason finale.

As it stands, that spot is likely between two players: second-year wideout Dezmon Patmon and special teams ace Ashton Dulin. They both bring different skill sets to the room, which makes this battle even more intriguing.

Patmon offers more as a receiver given his size, speed and athleticism. He’s shown out in that department as well during the preseason. In the team’s two games, he leads the offense in targets (11), receptions (9) and receiving yards (109). That said, he’s still among those on the roster bubble entering the finale.

Meanwhile, Dulin has been on and off the field with injuries throughout camp. He returned to play in the Week 2 game against the Minnesota Vikings but failed to make an impact. He was even partly responsible for the second interception that Sam Ehlinger threw.

It should be noted that undrafted rookies Tyler Vaughns and Tarik Black have also flashed during the preseason, but they are more likely headed for the practice squad.

It will be interesting to see how the Colts handle the wide receiver competition with one more preseason game remaining. Regardless, it won’t be an easy decision for Reich and Ballard.

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