On Sunday night, the Indianapolis Colts watched their top wide receiver, Reggie Wayne, exit the game due to what they were calling a sprained knee. As soon as the injury occurred, though, it was clear the Colts were being overly optimistic.
Wayne went down on a non-contact play, falling to the field after failing to adjust to a poorly-thrown football. He immediately grabbed his knee, needed help off the field, and reportedly shed a few tears on his way to the locker room.
No NFL player cries about a sprained knee, and thanks to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, we now know why the Colts receiver was so upset.
Colts doctors initially diagnosed torn ACL for Reggie Wayne; everyone hoping for a miracle as he goes into MRI on right knee.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) October 21, 2013
With Wayne now out of the picture, the Colts passing game is sure to see a significant decline in effectiveness.
Moving forward, the Colts passing game will feature the likes of T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Coby Fleener – not a very promising situation. Hilton is a dynamic playmaker, but suffers from a bit of inconsistency. Heyward-Bey is a borderline bust who has been plagued by drops since becoming a first-round pick back in 2009. Fleener, another former first-rounder, has chemistry with Andrew Luck but has struggled with drops and mental mistakes.
This opens up an opportunity for Hilton to shine as a featured receiver, but will allow defenses to give the second-year pass-catcher their full attention. During his rookie year, the FIU product hauled in 50 passes for 861 yards and seven touchdowns, but has had some trouble producing consistently throughout the 2013 campaign. Now, the Colts and Luck will rely on him to replace Wayne as the No. 1 receiver.
With the 2013 NFL trade deadline just over a week away, GM Ryan Grigson could seriously consider striking a deal to bring a young wide receiver to town. Either way, the Colts will have to figure out some way to compensate for the loss of production that Wayne brought to the table.
Luck is an elite quarterback talent, but losing his top target could severely hurt the passing game moving forward. We’ll see soon enough if someone else can step up and fill the void.