On Sunday, please serve up a heaping helping of Donte.
Yeah, a cheesy rhyme. It’s not the first time I’ve brought it up, so in the early Saturday morning hours of repeating this request, the mind is a bit punchy and silly.
But I couldn’t be more serious about Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Give the kid a chance to make some plays at Dallas. That’s with or without No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on the field at AT&T Stadium.
I’ve been floating this “suggestion” since Moncrief had his first 100-yard receiving game at Pittsburgh on Oct. 26. I’ve tweeted it, repeated it on the ColtsBlitz.com message board and worked it into a story or two.
Why hammer away about this one more time?
Because the Colts (10-4) would be wise not to risk Hilton and his sore left hamstring in a game that won’t impact their playoff seeding. And the Cowboys (10-4) are probably going to be a tall task for the visiting Colts. The home team needs this game. The visitors don’t.
We stop short of saying the Colts won’t win because you never know what can happen. When trying to sound smart with pundit prognostications, the opposite often occurs. The Cowboys are just 3-4 at home this season, and the Colts’ 3-4 defense will be bringing a blitz from all over the field to try to rattle quarterback Tony Romo. Perhaps Romo can revert to his previous December form, although don’t count on it.
This isn’t about lowering expectations for a team. It’s about raising them, at the very least, for one player.
Moncrief is part of the Colts’ future. He’s had another outstanding game since Heinz Field, where he caught seven passes for 113 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Two weeks ago, Moncrief torched the Washington Redskins for 134 yards receiving and two touchdowns. And that was in a game when he had just three receptions.
Last week, he didn’t have a catch. Well, he caught a deflected pass for a touchdown, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty. The stat book says he was targeted four times. I don’t know if the doughnut is because he didn’t get open, the passes were off line or what, but it behooves the Colts to get him more involved.
Hilton is hurt. Reggie Wayne has been playing hurt. Hakeem Nicks, despite making two important catches last week, doesn’t get consistent separation. This game seems like an ideal opportunity to target Moncrief more.
I chatted with Moncrief Wednesday and he’s still the same humble rookie the media met in training camp. He’s ready to make plays whenever his number is called. He doesn’t sound the least bit anxious about how often that does or doesn’t occur. He’s just ready.
You never know what you’re going to get with rookies. The third-round pick out of Mississippi made some plays in camp, but the first time he probably opened some eyes was at Jacksonville in Week 3 with an impressive, over-the-shoulder grab for 22 yards. It was initially ruled incomplete. But he snagged that sideline pass and got both feet in, which the replay showed, and it was overturned.
Moncrief made that play like a seasoned veteran. And he’s made a few more since. His 27-yard catch in the fourth quarter at Cleveland helped sustain a game-winning touchdown drive.
He has 27 catches for 423 yards and three TDs. Take away his two 100-yard games and that’s 17 receptions for 176 yards in 12 games. That’s simply not enough.
Regardless of the result in Dallas, here’s hoping the Colts give Moncrief the opportunity in a playoff-type atmosphere to make plays and build more confidence.
That should serve the team well down the road, for the playoffs in January but more importantly for 2015 and beyond.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.