The Indianapolis Colts are almost completely healthy on offense for the Week 7 matchup against the Tennessee Titans on October 23. But the team still announced it has elevated two offensive players from the practice squad for the contest.
Both of those players are wide receivers — Dezmon Patmon and Ethan Fernea.
This will be Patmon’s second game this season. He posted 2 receptions for 24 yards in Week 2 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fernea has never previously played in an NFL regular season game.
Colts Replacing Keke Coutee on Depth Chart
Running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines are set to return in Week 7. That leaves wide receiver Keke Coutee as the one major injury the Colts are still dealing with this weekend.
Coutee left in the second quarter after suffering a head injury during Week 6. He is in the concussion protocol.
He only has 1 catch over the last two seasons, but Coutee has served as Indianapolis’ punt returner for part of 2022. It’s unlikely that Patmon or Fernea will be in that role during Week 7, but maybe the team will ask Hines or another Colts receiver to return punts.
In case that happens, Patmon and Fernea will be available to supply depth at receiver.
With both of their promotions, the Colts will have six wide receivers on their active roster against the Titans in Week 7. In addition to Patmon and Fernea, quarterback Matt Ryan will be throwing outside passes to Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce, Parris Campbell and Mike Strachan.
Patmon has posted 4 receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown in his NFL career. He played in 8 games during the 2021 season, recording 2 catches for 21 yards with the score.
Obviously, Fernea doesn’t have any statistics, having never recorded a snap in an NFL regular season game.
Other Potential Roles for Fernea, Patmon
There’s one other potential role for Fernea — punt return coverage.
Sports Illustrated’s Zach Hicks speculated that Fernea could be used as a gunner instead of Isaiah Rodgers on October 23. That could open up Rodgers for more opportunities on defense.
After beating the Jaguars in Week 6, Colts reporter Nate Atkins of The Indianapolis Star urged Indianapolis to play Rodgers more on defense in favor of fellow cornerback Brandon Facyson.
“[Isaiah Rodgers] didn’t start the game at cornerback, which continues to be a puzzling decision,” Atkins wrote. “Brandon Facyson had a difficult day in contain as well as coverage.
“The Colts have a situation at cornerback where Stephon Gilmore and Kenny Moore II are going to play every snap, as they should, but it leaves it so that the second outside spot is the only place Rodgers can get on the field. He needs to play more, because he has elite speed to stay with receivers and just has a ridiculous nose for the ball.”
Rodgers played 32 defensive snaps in Week 6. That was two fewer than the prior game, but a greater percentage of the team’s defensive snaps overall (51% in Week 6 versus 47% in Week 5).
Rodgers also played 13 snaps on special teams last week. He’s averaged more than 14 special teams snaps per game this season.
Facyson’s playing time has declined over the past three weeks, but with Fernea an option in punt return coverage, perhaps the Colts will cut Rodgers’ special teams snaps to play him even more on defense.