INDIANAPOLIS – There were a lot of mysteries that were hard to explain about the 2022 Indianapolis Colts.
One of those was the lack of usage with rookie tight end Jelani Woods late in the season.
With the Colts completely season off the rails, Woods provided a rare bright spot on Monday Night Football in late November.
It was an 8-catch, 98-yard night for Woods in a late-November coming out party against the Steelers.
How did the Colts respond to one of the finest individual performances of the season for any Colts skill player?
By playing Woods 15 snaps the next week, and just 19 the game after that.
It was one of the numerous head-scratching coaching/personnel decisions made by the Colts last year, in one of the most historically disappointing, and embarrassing, seasons in recent franchise history.
Woods certainly needed time to develop in his rookie season.
He had some rocky moments in training camp, and didn’t earn consistent playing time early on.
But what Woods showed against the Steelers, and a few more throughout 2022, has many believing he could be in-line to take another step forward in his second NFL season.
When Woods met the media earlier this spring, he didn’t hide the difference in feelings of life in the NFL from 2022 to 2023.
“Most definitely, 100 percent different,” the former college quarterback said.
“I feel like two completely different people, which is pretty awesome for me.”
Woods ended his rookie season with 24 catches for 313 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Growing moments in camp were necessary for Woods to fully grasp what life is like in the NFL at a position many peg as one of the harder to transition to, when projecting guys from college.
“I felt like I was learning a lot in a short amount of time,” the 24-year-old tight end says. “Essentially learning two positions – the F and the Y – they both do two completely different tasks on almost every play. It was kind of like a whirlwind starting off and then once I kind of settled and got down it was like one day it just clicked honestly, and I could start putting everything together and it was like one big picture. I was able to move pretty fast after that thinking wise.”
Of that entire group though, the one with the most potential is probably Woods.
And if Woods does continue to show that Monday night game against the Steelers was no fluke, he should be in the right position to succeed with Anthony Richardson moving forward.
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