Zach Bolinger | Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS – Chris Ballard still acknowledges the talent, and it comes at a position in which the Colts are looking for just that this offseason.
During a year in which the Colts received little needed production from the wideout position, they decided Deon Cain was expendable.
So the Pittsburgh Steelers pounced on that, signing Cain off the Indy practice squad in mid-November.
Cain was available, via the practice squad, because the Colts were not pleased with the professional approach of the 23-year-old.
“You have to do things the way we are asking you do them, the way we are asking you to work, the way we are asking you to prepare,” Ballard says when asked about Cain leaving. “If you don’t do them that way, you are not going to be here.
“It got to a point, where Deon is a young player, and a very talented player, but we weren’t getting what we needed. So we decided to release him.”
The move was (and still is) a head scratcher.
For one, the Colts were not in a desperate move for a 53-man roster spot, with several other dispensable players that could have been cut.
Also, when Cain was on the practice squad, Frank Reich acknowledged the slower development that can occur with young wideouts, particularly ones barely a year removed from tearing an ACL.
With Pittsburgh, Cain flashed some of the 50/50 ball playmaking that the Colts could have used as their own receivers continued to struggle.
Cain’s 2019 season with the Colts, however, saw hardly any success after a nice season opener.
After catching a pair of passes for 35 yards in Week One, Cain caught 2 balls in 10 targets over the next 6 games with the Colts.
Following Cain being a healthy scratch in Week Eight against the Broncos, the Colts decided to waive him.
They brought him back onto their practice squad the next Monday, before the Steelers signed him at the end of the week.
According to Ballard, Cain had a choice of staying in Indy or going to Pittsburgh. The second-year wideout chose a new environment.
“When Pittsburgh came to sign him, he ended up choosing to go to Pittsburgh,” Ballard says.
No longer having an intriguing young option in the receiver room, who the Colts have pointed out excelled in beating press coverage (a tough trait to find in young receivers), only adds to the need at that position this offseason.