Darius Butler Makes Bold Prediction for Colts RB Nyheim Hines

Frank Reich

Getty Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines could set new career highs for head coach Frank Reich this season.

NFL media personality Darius Butler doesn’t shy away from having somewhat outlandish predictions or expectations. That was again the case on August 17.

While appearing on The Pat McAfee Show, which was at Indianapolis Colts training camp on August 17, Butler made a bold prediction for Colts running back Nyheim Hines.

“He might catch 100 balls this year,” Butler claimed.

Even in a 17-game season, that’s a lot of receptions for a running back. But one of the producers for The Pat McAfee Show, Ty Schmidt, didn’t really disagree with Butler’s bold prediction.

“With how good Jonathan Taylor is, obviously, the backfield touches he was getting were going to get minimized,” Schmidt said in regards to Hines getting more touches last season. “I think maybe that is why the Colts didn’t go out and get a guy like Julio Jones or one of those free agent guys who were available. Because maybe that is the plan — Nyheim Hines is going to have to catch 85 or 100 balls for us this year.”

Hines posted 40 catches for 310 yards and a touchdown last year. He’s reached 63 catches in a season twice during his four-year career, and his previous career best for receiving yards in a season was 482 in 2020.

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100 Catches Realistic Goal for Hines?

For Hines to reach 100 receptions this season, he will have to nearly double what he’s been averaging in catches per season. Through four years in the NFL, Hines has 210 receptions for 1,537 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The last time a running back posted at least 100 catches in a season was Christian McCaffrey for the Carolina Panthers in 2019. McCaffrey is the only running back to reach 100 receptions during a season in the last seven years.

In 2021, Pittsburgh Steelers’ Najee Harris led all running backs with 74 catches.

To record 100 catches as a running back is a lofty goal. Hines will have to average 5.9 catches per game. Hines had six receptions in Week 1 last year, but then never posted more than five in a game again during the 2021 season.

Colts’ Usage of Hines

The odds are stacked against Hines reaching 100 receptions. But there’s no doubting he has the talent to be a major force as a pass catcher. If the Colts feature Hines in the passing game as they say they want to, new career highs for the 25-year-old running back are certainly possible — even likely.

“I think [Matt Ryan] and Nyheim [Hines] have worked a lot this offseason together,” Reich told to reporters on July 30. “So, we can utilize Nyheim [Hines] in a number of different ways where we line him up in the backfield with JT (Jonathan Taylor) or put him anywhere in the formation and feel like there’s going to be confidence there.

“Nyheim’s, as we’ve said all along, he’s just a guy who’s going to be involved in this offense.”

Hines’ two best statistical seasons as a pass catcher came with Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers behind center. He wasn’t used as often when Indianapolis started Jacoby Brissett and Carson Wentz at quarterback.

With Matt Ryan’s arrival, the hope is Hines will be used often again in the passing game. Ryan has a tendency to get rid of the ball quickly, and with the inexperience the Colts have among their wide receivers, he may deliver the ball to Hines often, especially early in the season.

Furthermore, as Reich indicated, Indianapolis’ offense could deploy both Taylor and Hines on the field together more often this year.

With the Atlanta Falcons last season, Ryan targeted running back Cordarrelle Patterson 69 times, which was more than any other Falcons player except Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage. Patterson was third on the team with 52 catches and 548 yards.

Whether or not Hines catches 100 balls, he appears on the verge of becoming one of the league’s top passing weapons at running back.

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