INDIANAPOLIS – It was always an extreme long shot, and the Colts knew that.
Just maybe, maybe though, had the Colts gotten on some deep playoff run, could Parris Campbell have returned from that PCL/MCL injury that occurred in Week two?
Internally though, the Colts knew what was likely the case, and also what was best for Campbell long-term.
After such a promising 2020 season opener—when Campbell led the Colts with 6 catches for 91 yards—his season ended on the second play of Week 2.
The play was a specific design to get Campbell an early touch, knowing that he brings a different element from the rest of the Colts skill guys. It was a 7-yard gain on a jet sweep before Vikings safety Harrison Smith hit Campbell directly on the inside of his left knee.
It occurred right in front of the Colts bench. With four members of the Colts athletic training staff tending to Campbell writhing in pain, Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni took a knee beside their electric young wideout.
Selfishly, the Colts had lost arguably their most explosive pass catcher.
For Campbell, it was another unfortunate injury that has marred his first two seasons in the NFL.
From three surgeries on four different injuries in his rookie season (hamstring, hernia, finger, foot), Campbell’s run of bad luck continued in his second NFL training camp when he was in a car accident that led to him being placed in concussion protocol.
He recovered in time for the season opener in Jacksonville, but his 2020 season ended in the first quarter of Week Two.
Despite missing 23 of 32 NFL games so far, Campbell is someone this staff has full confidence in.
“I still believe in Parris Campbell,” Chris Ballard says. “He’s had some bad luck.
“Parris Campbell is good. He’s a talent. He’s a great kid and he works. He’s got a little more internal fortitude and mental toughness that I think he’s going to be able to overcome these tough situations he’s had to do deal with as injuries.”
That last part is a big reason why the Colts still think Campbell can be a major part of this team moving forward.
In the last two games Campbell has played and finished healthy, he’s had 15 touches for 160 yards.
But in that span, the Colts have played 24 such games.
Take out Campbell’s first month of his rookie season and he’s played in just 5 games (out of 28).
The Colts think the injuries have been fluke-ish and Campbell offers the mental ability to still find NFL success.
When healthy, Campbell brings the skillset to flourish in a Reich offense.
It goes without saying how important this third NFL season will be for Campbell’s future in Indy, and in the NFL.
“He’s worked his butt off in rehab. He’s driven,” Ballard says. “He’s still young. He’s still talented. We think Parris is going to be a valuable member of this team moving forward I still believe in him. Our coaches still believe in him.
“We will get him healthy, get him ready for camp and let him compete.”