Colts’ Frank Reich Updates Michael Pittman Jr.’s Chance to Play in Week 3

Michael Pittman Jr.

Getty Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. did not play in the 24-0 loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 because of a quad injury.

The Indianapolis Colts badly missed wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. in the 24-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars during Week 2. But the hope within the Colts organization is Pittman will be ready to go on September 25 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Hoping it’s just a one-game thing. We’ll see,” Colts head coach Frank Reich told the media on September 19. “I’ll be open with that stuff as we go. I’m not trying to hide anything there. I hope he’s ready this week, but – he looked like he was in good spirits today. I didn’t really talk with him at length yet today. We have our medical meeting later but I talked to our trainers and I think he made some good progress over the weekend.

“So, not sure he’ll be ready Wednesday. I think it will be close for Wednesday, but we’ll see.”

Pittman posted 9 catches for 121 yards with a touchdown in the season opener tie against the Houston Texans. Without him in Week 2, the entire Colts wide receiver group combined for 8 receptions and 126 yards while the offense didn’t score.

Pittman practiced in limited fashion on September 14 and then didn’t practice at all on September 15. The Colts ruled him out the day before facing the Jaguars in Week 2.

Pittman’s Value to Colts Offense

Radio host Kevin Bowen called Pittman “the most indispensable player on the team” on his show, Kevin & Query, on September 19. Looking at the numbers for Pittman versus the other wide receivers, it’s not hard to see why. Despite missing Week 2, Pittman still leads all Colts wideouts in catches and trails only Ashton Dulin by 4 yards (125 versus 121).

But Indianapolis didn’t need the beginning of this season to know Pittman’s value to the team. Last year, he led the Colts with 129 targets, which was nearly double what any other Indianapolis pass catcher received.

Pittman’s value on Indianapolis’ offense has only grown since the start of 2021. Zach Pascal and T.Y. Hilton were ranked second and third with 69 and 37 targets, respectively, last year. Both wide receivers left in free agency.

No Colts receiver other than Pittman entered 2022 with more than 24 targets in a season. Indianapolis’ preseason plan was to count on the injury-prone Parris Campbell, rookie Alec Pierce, and inexperienced Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan to be complimentary weapons to Pittman.

In Week 2, those receivers proved they aren’t ready to carry the load without Pittman. That makes Pittman’s return essential for the Colts to move the ball versus the Chiefs.

Colts Need More From Other Pass Catchers

There are other ways to create a passing offense other than on the outside with receivers. In today’s NFL, just about every strong offense has great pass-catching tight ends and running backs.

Quarterback Matt Ryan has been particularly good at involving those positions in the passing game during his career. But the Colts haven’t really been able to do it yet this season.

Tight end Mo Alie-Cox has just 3 catches for 35 yards on 5 targets this season. Fellow tight end Kylen Granson has more receptions (5) but barely more yards (36).

Running back Nyheim Hines leads Indianapolis with 10 catches, but honestly, it should be more. He only played 15 snaps in Week 2 despite the fact the Colts were missing 2 receivers.

Hines can line up in the slot and be a chain mover on short pass attempts. He caught 2 passes on the opening drive during Week 2, including a 19-yard reception for a first down. But he received just 2 targets the rest of the game.

Hearing Pittman could play in Week 3 should lift Indianapolis’ spirits. But whether he dresses or not, the Colts must find a complimentary pierce to its best weapon.

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