How will the Colts replace Reggie Wayne?

Andy Lyons

With Reggie Wayne out for the season, Indianapolis will turn to a former first-round pick to help pick up the slack.

At 5-2 and with impressive wins against Seattle, Denver and San Francisco, the Colts appear to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. If Indianapolis is going to remain in contention, however, it will have to find a way to fill the void after losing Reggie Wayne for the season. The Colts don't have a single player capable of duplicating everything Wayne could do and will instead rely on a former "bust" and a few unproven players.

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Wayne was targeted on more than 25 percent of Indianapolis' passes this season, leaving a major void to fill. Darrius Heyward-Bey will likely be counted on to fill the biggest chunk of the void as he steps into the starting lineup. The former first-round pick has had some success in his first season with the Colts, catching 18 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. Known for his elite speed, Heyward-Bey hasn't been much of a downfield threat this season, something that may need to change if Indianapolis is going to remain a threat.

Wayne leads the Colts with eight catches of 20 or more yards. Heyward-Bey has just one catch of more than 20 yards this season. The good news for Indianapolis is Heyward-Bey proved to be an effective downfield threat earlier in his career. With Wayne's 8.3 targets per game needing to be replaced, Heyward-Bey will likely see an additional two or three passes come his way each game.

While T.Y. Hilton is already playing a significant role for the Colts, he could also see an increase in targets. He's been targeted 7.7 times per game this season, a number which will likely be closer to nine moving forward. Hilton is having a solid second season, but is yet to prove he can be a go-to guy capable of being effective with 10 or more targets per game. Wayne often drew extra attention from defenses, opening things up for Hilton. He'll need to show he can be just as effective without Wayne and with an additional workload.

Beyond Hilton and Heyward-Bey, the Colts don't have much experience at wide receiver. Griff Whalen is the only other wide out who's been targeted this season and he has just two catches on three targets. Whalen, David Reed and LaVon Brazill will compete for No. 3 duties. Brazill may be the best bet to win the job. He caught 11 passes last season and showed flashes of being an explosive threat. He was suspended for the first five games of this season and is still working his way back into the offense. That process will likely speed up now and Brazill may be relied on for four to five targets per game.

Tight end Coby Fleener could also see a couple of additional passes come his way each game. Tight end may have been an even bigger emphasis if Dwayne Allen wasn't out for the season due to injury.

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