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INDIANAPOLIS – Going into their healthiest game of the 2019 season, the Colts had a few head scratching decisions on their Week 8 inactive list.
Despite being healthy and not even appearing on the injury report last week, both WR-Deon Cain and CB-Quincy Wilson were inactive against the Broncos.
Cain and Wilson—two young talents who the Colts would love to groom into future starters/impact players—have both played notable roles for the Colts this season.
But with neither guy offering a whole lot of production as of late, the Colts decided to bench both of them on Sunday.
“There’s lots of moving parts that go into the roster and lots of moving parts of who is active and who is inactive,” Frank Reich said on his weekly Monday conference call. “A lot of factors (including special teams) go into that week-to-week. This is one of those weeks where we felt like that was the best decision, for all those underlying reasons that I’m implying go into a decision like this, which obviously I can’t go into.
“That’s probably the hardest decision every week, when the team is healthy, who is going to sit?”
These were the wide receiver snap counts on Sunday:
-T.Y. Hilton: 60-of-64 (6 targets)
-Zach Pascal: 59-of-64 (2 targets), 9 snaps on special teams
-Chester Rogers: 40-of-64 (2 targets), 7 snaps on special teams
-Parris Campbell: 8-of-64 (1 target), 0 snaps on special teams
-Ashton Dulin: 4-of-64 (0 targets), 15 snaps on special teams
On Cain, the early-season role the Colts had envisioned for him is clearly no longer there, even with an injury to Devin Funchess.
Since Funchess went down in the season opener, Cain had been playing at least 42 percent of the offensive snaps in each game. But the return of Parris Campbell (who played just 8 snaps on Sunday), and Cain offering no help on special teams, had the Colts having the 6-2 wideout as a healthy scratch against Denver.
“Parris was ready and we had some stuff up that we wanted to get him in there for,” Reich mentioned on Monday, when asked specifically about Cain being inactive. “It turned out a couple of things didn’t play out like we envisioned. I was probably envisioning Parris playing a little bit more than he played, but it was a game where we had a lower snap count (64 offensive plays) than normal.”
After last week’s win over the Texans, we took a closer look at Cain having 0 targets in his 32 snaps played. Since catching 2 balls in the 2019 season opener, Cain has had just 2 catches, in 10 targets, in 199 snaps played (6 games played). He did draw a couple of a big pass interference penalties on deep balls.
While you can see some specific reasons for Cain being inactive, the Wilson decision is a little bit fuzzier.
These were the cornerback snap counts on Sunday:
-Rock Ya-Sin: 73-of-73, 13 snaps on special teams
-Kenny Moore 71-of-73, 0 snaps on special teams
-Marvell Tell: 37-of-73, 18 snaps on special teams
-Shakial Taylor: Dressed, but didn’t play a single snap on defense or special teams.
Now, the need to rely on an abundance of cornerbacks against Denver wasn’t a huge priority, given how depleted the Broncs receiving group is, plus the fact that the Colts were fully healthy at safety and wanted to rotate 4 guys back there, while involving them in sub packages.
But with Pierre Desir (hamstring) inactive, the Colts decided to go with much more inexperienced rookies Marvell Tell and undrafted cornerback Shakial Taylor, over Quincy Wilson.
Tell, the 2019 fifth-round rookie who is learning to play cornerback after being a collegiate safety, entered Sunday having played 3 defensive snaps in his career, became the team’s 3rd cornerback against the Broncos.
Taylor, a 2019 undrafted free agent who had just 2 games of NFL experience, was the emergency corner against Denver, despite Wilson’s often lauded versatility as something the Colts have pointed to as his greatest asset, and a key factor in deciding who is active on game day.
Wilson, who has played in 26 career games (10 starts) and seen time in several different spots in the defensive backfield, was benched for two rookie corners who hadn’t even been on an NFL field until the start of October.
Reich made it clear that the decision to have Wilson inactive was not for disciplinary reasons.
“I think Quincy’s been good,” Reich said when asked about Wilson’s play in 2019. “You look back to what he did last year, playing a lot of corner for us. Then this year we got into a position with a bunch of safeties hurt, because we know Quincy can play any position back there, we got in a bind and moved him to safety. Back at corner, he can play dime, he can play nickel.
“We’ve obviously added depth to the roster at all those positions, so that all plays into the mix. We believe Quincy continues to be a winning football player for us.”
Wilson, 23, is in Year Three of his four-year rookie contract.
While the details are still a bit murky as to why the Colts decided now was the time to put Cain and Wilson on the inactive list, it’s clear that neither player currently provides enough of a role on their respective side of the ball to merit dressing.
The lack of special teams presence from both of them isn’t aiding their cause either.
Reich on Khari Willis (foot):
“The preliminary reports seem to be positive, but you never know with these things.”
Wants to wait a couple of days before giving a firm answer.
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) October 28, 2019