INDIANAPOLIS – In a way, the lack of activity the Colts have shown at wide receiver and tight end this offseason has sent a message to a couple of guys already in the building.
Back in January, you could feel the Colts thought Nyheim Hines and Kylen Granson were underutilized, to varying degrees, last season.
And when you couple that with how Chris Ballard and the Colts talked about their quarterback play, it makes sense as to why the Colts think those two guys will see their roles expand in 2022.
For Hines, his 4 years in the NFL have seen production really fluctuate depending on the quarterback.
With Andrew Luck in 2018, the rookie Hines had 63 catches on 81 targets. Those numbers dipped to 58 targets and 44 catches with Jacoby Brissett in 2019. With Philip Rivers in 2020, Hines caught 63 balls on 73 targets. However, the production for Hines shrunk in 2022, catching 40 balls on 57 targets from Carson Wentz.
The expectation is Hines will see Luck/Rivers type numbers with Ryan now under center.
“Nyheim Hines is a good player that we need to get more involved,” Chris Ballard said at the end of the 2021 season. “We have to get him more touches.”
The plan is to get Hines more involved as a slot wide receiver, which makes even more sense given the lack of proven wideouts. Implementing a higher number of two-running back sets, with Hines and Jonathan Taylor, is something the Colts had success with in 2021. They want to expand that this season.
Financially, Hines was underutilized in ’21. The Colts are paying him to impact the game at a much higher level than he did last year.
With Granson, the second-year tight end is still in a prove-it stage after a quiet rookie season.
Granson had 11 catches last year, despite being healthy for the entire season (17 games).
The Colts drafted Granson with the thinking that he would be a 1-on-1 matchup problem, offering much more of a receiving threat as a tight end versus an in-line blocker.
“We thought (Granson) showed some things and he will continue to grow,” Ballard said earlier this offseason.
In a game that has grown into so many 1-on-1 matchups on the perimeter, these are two guys that bring a skillset to create some advantages for the Colts.
Given the lack of pass catching attention the Colts have shown outside of their building this offseason, it’s a message to Hines and Granson that the expectations are there for more with Ryan now under center.