The Indianapolis Colts received more bad news on the injury front on September 17.
Indianapolis announced that wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. has been ruled out for the Week 2 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Pittman will not play because of a quad injury he sustained in practice on September 14.
Pittman led the Colts with 9 receptions and 121 receiving yards in Week 1. He scored the game-tying touchdown with 1:54 remaining in regulation. The Colts tied the Texans in the season opener, 20-20.
Colts Have Huge Hole to Fill Without Pittman
With his 121 receiving yards, Pittman accounted for about one-third of Indianapolis’ receiving yards against the Texans.
Last year, Pittman received 129 targets while the next Colts pass catcher, Zach Pascal, had 69 targets.
Pittman posted 88 catches for 1,082 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2021. Not only did he lead Indianapolis in receiving, Pittman was the only Colts pass catcher with 40-plus receptions or more than 384 receiving yards.
The Colts hope to have more balance in their passing attack this season, but that wasn’t the case in Week 1. Pittman was the only Indianapolis receiver with more than 3 catches or 47 receiving yards against the Texans.
Anyway one slices the statistics, Pittman is a huge part of Indianapolis’ offense, and his absence against the Jaguars, a team the Colts haven’t beaten on the road since 2014, will be a major storyline.
Without Pittman, the Colts may need to ask even more from All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor to beat Jacksonville. Taylor had 31 rushes for 161 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
Alec Pierce Also Ruled Out for Week 2
In addition to Pittman, the Colts will be without rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce and All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard. Indianapolis ruled both of those starters out for Week 2 on September 16.
Pierce will not play because of a concussion while Leonard is still recovering from offseason back surgery. Pierce sustained a helmet-to-helmet hit versus the Texans in Week 1. While he said he felt fine during the game after the hit, head coach Frank Reich told the media Pierce developed “mild” concussion-like symptoms later.
He needed to clear the concussion protocol in order to play, and that, unfortunately, didn’t happen.
Pierce received just 2 targets and dropped a touchdown in Week 1. But he played 47 snaps. Without Pittman and Pierce, the Colts have 137 snaps at wide receiver from last week to give to other offensive weapons on their roster.
Their obvious replacements are wideouts Parris Campbell, Ashton Dulin and Mike Strachan. Each showed flashes during the preseason and Week 1, but they haven’t established themselves as receivers who can be counted upon for consistent production.
They will each likely have a massive career opportunity against Jacksonville.
The Colts will also have veteran receiver Keke Coutee available. The Colts announced on September 17 that they elevated Coutee from the practice squad.
Indianapolis could also attempt to make up for the loss of Pittman and Pierce with more double-tight end sets. Tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and Kylen Granson combined for 5 catches and 48 receiving yards in Week 1. The Colts have rookie tight end Jelani Woods as well. The 2022 third-round pick played 8 snaps and didn’t receive a target during his NFL debut in Week 1.
The Colts will likely feature running back Nyheim Hines on the field more with Taylor versus the Jaguars. Hines is Indianapolis’ best pass-catching back. He was second on the team with 6 catches and 50 receiving yards in Week 1.