Offseason workouts are typically more important for young and inexperienced players. So, if there’s a position group for the Indianapolis Colts that needs this year’s OTAs more than others, it’s the wide receivers.
Fortunately for the Colts, the team’s young wide receivers are showing signs of improvement this offseason. When speaking to reporters on June 1, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich said he’s excited about the group and that he “feels good” about the progress the wide receivers have made during OTAs.
“That group has looked good. We’re not in pads, it’s all kind of offensive drills, so you temper that a little bit,” Reich said. “We’ve got to get into training camp with pads on. [But] I feel good about the group.”
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Reich Challenges Parris Campbell
The Colts have been waiting the longest for fourth-year receiver Parris Campbell to develop into a starter. Indianapolis selected Campbell in the second round of the 2019 NFL draft, but he’s only played in 15 games over three years because of various injuries.
Despite his inability to stay healthy, the Colts have expressed confidence in Campbell as he enters the final year of his rookie contract. Reich remained optimistic about Campbell’s chances of developing into a starter.
“I’ve always seen Parris since the day that we drafted him as a guy who can play every position and can really do it all,” Reich said on June 1. “I think he can play in the slot, he can play all that game – the shallows, the crosses, the option-routes. He’s smart, he’s explosive, you can put him at the outside. He’s got speed to get deep. He’s got good footwork on the top of routes on the outside going vertical.
“So, really develop him as a complete receiver. Really, that’s the upside if he can stay healthy. He’s got to prove it. He’s got to prove that he can stay healthy. He’s got to prove that he can execute and make play after play after play, but I see him as having that kind of potential.”
Campbell, who will turn 25 in July, played six games last season and caught only 10 passes, but he averaged 16.2 yards per catch.
Reich Identifies High Ceiling for Ashton Dulin
Although he went undrafted, Dulin is also entering his fourth season with the Colts. Reich identified him as another Indianapolis receiver with upside.
“I think Ashton’s ceiling as a receiver is pretty high. I really do,” Reich said. “Chris [Ballard, Colts general manager] and I have felt that, and he’s just continued to develop. Really excited about the work he continues to do.”
Dunlin has posted 18 receptions for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his career. He doesn’t have as many catches or yards as Campbell despite having played in nearly three times as many NFL games.
Last season, Dunlin had 13 catches for 173 yards. He caught two touchdowns in back-to-back games in Weeks 12 and 13.
High Expectations for Rookie Alec Pierce
As much as the Colts have expressed confidence in their receivers this offseason, the expectation was Indianapolis would still add to the group in the draft. That came to fruition when the Colts drafted Cincinnati wideout Alec Pierce in the second round.
Pierce could very well end up seeing more playing time than either Campbell or Dulin. But Reich said Pierce would have to earn his playing time.
“He’s a very smart guy,” Reich said. “He’s really learned the offense quickly. He’s done a good job.
“He’s going to have to compete for every snap. It’s a very competitive group. But we’re definitely pushing him.”