INDIANAPOLIS – The NFL continues to operate business as usual here in the 2020 offseason, with training camps on the horizon.
If everything does begin on time for camps, the Colts will start theirs on July 28th (veterans report day). This year’s camp will take place at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, with the NFL mandating teams stay home for camp due to COVID-19.
With the on-field portion of the spring not happening this season, training camp will be the only time this offseason for players to make an impression on the staff.
It’s time to pick back up our ‘burning questions’ series on 1075TheFan.com.
Here are our burning questions at the wide receiver position heading into the 2020 Training Camp:
1. Will T.Y. Hilton earn a third contract here in Indianapolis?
For now, the 2020 season will be the first time in T.Y. Hilton’s career he has played in a contract year.
Hilton, who turns 31 in November, has clearly stated he wants one more multi-year contract from the Colts, before he retires.
Will the Colts make him earn it in 2020?
That could very well happen, after various injuries have kept Hilton off the field for 25 percent of the Colts games the past two seasons.
If Hilton can play 14-ish games in 2020 and finish the year hovering close to 1,000 yards, it would make sense for the Colts to go ahead and hand him a multiple-year extension.
He’s still the alpha of this passing offense and the only pass catcher that truly strikes fear in the opponent.
There’s pressure on Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell to impact things from Day 1, but if this is it for Hilton in Indy, that pressure on those young second-rounders only rises.
STAT TO NOTE: T.Y. Hilton, who missed 6 games last season, finished last year with career lows in yards per reception (11.1) and yards per game (50.1).
2. Will Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell provide enough support for T.Y. Hilton?
Take out the names ‘Pittman’ and ‘Campbell’ and insert others, and this has been the question at the wide receiver position since Reggie Wayne tore his ACL midway through the 2013 season.
Weight is squarely on the shoulders of these two 22-year-old wideouts.
In vastly different roles, the Colts will ask a lot out of Pittman and Campbell to complete the top of the wideout depth chart, with the reliable Zach Pascal also in the mix.
As Chris Ballard has previously stated, it can take time for rookie/young wideouts to make early impacts in the NFL.
That applies to these two, although they bring specific skillsets that Frank Reich should be able to tap into.
For Campbell, it’s staying healthy and creating big plays post-catch.
For Pittman, it’s handling NFL man coverage and still being a consistent 50/50 weapon.
STAT TO NOTE: Pittman and Justin Jefferson (LSU) were the only Power-5 wideouts last season to finish the year with at least 100 catches (101 catches), 1,000 yards (1,275 yards) and 10 touchdowns (11 touchdowns).
3. Who will round out the wideout group?
Let’s go with 4 wideouts as ‘locks’ to make the 53-man roster: T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, Michael Pittman, Parris Campbell.
That leaves room for 1 or 2 spots for the other 9 wideouts currently on the 90-man roster.
Guys that should be in the mix to round out the group include Ashton Dulin, Reece Fountain, Marcus Johnson, Dezmon Patmon.
Dulin showed the special teams ability last year.
Johnson has had flashes offensively.
And Fountain and Patmon are the two draft picks that offer some intriguing athletic traits.
If the Colts only keep 3 tight ends, that could lead to the wide receiver number being 6 this year.
This is always a fun battle to watch, and it was important last year considering how much the Colts had to rely on their wideout depth.
STAT TO NOTE: The Colts finished last season ranked 26th in yards after catch.