The likelihood that the Indianapolis Colts won't have top wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for Sunday’s game against Denver’s No. 1-ranked defense suggests more of a workload for emerging second-year pass catcher Donte Moncrief.
Not that Moncrief is looking at game day any differently.
Hilton is questionable and will be a game-time decision due to a left foot sprain that had the Pro Bowl star missing practice all week. But Moncrief says his approach won’t change. He’s as low key a guy as they come. When it’s time to play, he’ll line up and try to do his job.
He seems unfazed by anything that could impact his involvement, whether it’s Hilton possbily missing the game or having associate head coach Rob Chudzinski call plays instead of fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
“Oh no, it’s just football,” Moncrief said of how carrying more of the load without Hilton could affect him. “I’m going to go out there and play football with your brothers and go out there and get the win.”
The Colts (3-5) are trying to snap a three-game losing streak as five-point home underdogs against Denver (7-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Moncrief caught just two passes for 18 yards in Monday’s 29-26 overtime loss at Carolina, but he’s second on the team with 36 receptions for 399 yards and his five touchdowns lead the team.
“Great corners, great secondary,” Moncrief said. “Defensive line gets a lot of pressure, so you’ve got to get open fast. You’ve got to win. You can’t let nobody play you man-to-man all day.”
But that’s how the Broncos thrive in shutting down passing attacks. Talib and Harris take away favorite targets while a pass rush led by DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller get to the quarterback. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s reigning MVP, passed for just 77 yards in Sunday’s 29-10 loss at Denver. It was the two-time MVP’s career low for a full game.
Chudzinski, who replaced Hamilton as the play caller on Tuesday, has emphasized the importance of the Colts getting off to a fast start. The opponent has scored first in four of the Colts’ five losses and they’ve been outscored 110-64 in the first half.
Even if Hilton plays, he obviously won’t be 100 percent. He only had a 15-yard reception at Carolina and was seen after the game with a boot on his left foot.
Moncrief has played so well, he’s already surpassed rookie totals for touchdowns and receptions and needs just 46 yards to pass his 2014 total in that category.
“We’ve got to keep making plays and start off fast and don’t start off slow,” the former third-round selection said. “That’s what we’re working on now. There’s a lot of energy out there. We know what we’ve got to do.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.