INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will be without arguably their most unique offensive weapon for some time.
It’s not hyperbole to throw that label on Parris Campbell, who will be sidelined for an indefinite period of time after injuring his MCL and PCL on Sunday afternoon.
Throughout the offseason, and again after Campbell’s strong season opener, we heard the Colts gush over what Campbell means.
“The ceiling is so high for (Campbell),” Philip Rivers said last week. “The sky is the limit. He’s a strong, fast guy.
“He’ll continue to be a big part of the offense moving forward and just another aspect, another weapon from a skill position standpoint.”
With his 4.3 40-yard dash speed, Campbell is easily one of the fastest Colts and someone that this staff is/was prepared to use a lot in 2020.
In the season opener, Frank Reich had Campbell playing more snaps than T.Y. Hilton. Campbell was targeted the most of any Colts’ skill player, too, in Week 1.
Even the play Campbell was hurt on this past Sunday—a jet sweep—was another way to get the ball in the hands of the explosive playmaker.
Campbell is this team’s main slot wideout. Of the other 6 wide receivers on the 53-man roster, only T.Y. Hilton offers a similar type of consistent threat from the slot.
How the Colts go about replacing Campbell is no easy answer, with Reich throwing out several name that could/will get a look.
First, more of an onus will fall on Reich to scheme things up that Campbell naturally offers with his presence on the field.
Using Hilton more in the slot makes sense, although it puts more pressure on the likes of Michael Pittman and Zach Pascal to win outside.
The always versatile Nyheim Hines has taken his fair share of slot snaps in the NFL. But the Colts still want to use Hines out of the backfield on 3rd down, not wanting to put too much three-down responsibility on the plate of Jonathan Taylor.
Reich mentions Hines, Pascal, the speedy Ashton Dulin and Reece Fountain all as potential slot options.
Fans will shudder, but searching for the guy that has played the most slot snaps in Frank Reich’s offense with the Colts would take them to the Titans practice squad, where Chester Rogers joined on Monday. Rogers started in 16 of the 28 games he played for Reich and the Colts over the last two seasons. The Colts did not re-sign Rogers this offseason. He was with the Dolphins in early August but was waived at final roster cuts.
Unlike Jonathan Taylor replacing Marlon Mack or even Julian Blackmon filling the Malik Hooker void, the Colts do not have such an obvious player to turn to with Campbell sidelined.
In a matchup driven league, having a dynamic player in the slot is such a critical piece to any offense.
“I think slot receivers, it’s all about matchups,” Campbell said earlier this offseason. “That’s where the game plan and the scheme comes in. A lot of times when you’re in the slot, unless the defense is in nickel (and) bringing in an extra DB, the majority of the time you’re lining up against safeties sometimes even linebackers who are not as – I don’t want to say as athletic, but the speed might not be up to par. It’s definitely a matchup thing. Having the things that I have, I think it just works well.”
Now, unfortunately, those traits are gone for an unspecified time and the search is on to try and make up for such a loss.