When the Indianapolis Colts signed Hakeem Nicks in March, Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport gave the move an A-plus grade and wrote that he, along with Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, would give the Colts "one of the best wide receiver trios in the NFL."
Davenport’s logic was well-founded: In five seasons with the New York Giants, Nicks established himself as one of the NFL’s toughest outside receivers, catching 311 passes for 4,622 yards and 27 touchdowns. Taking a chance on him with a one-year, $3.975 million deal seemingly was a bargain.
Reports from Colts training camp this week, however, indicate Indianapolis might have some concerns about the return they will get on that investment.
"I don’t know if I can say that I’ve seen enough," Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said Sunday of Nicks’ training camp thus far, according to Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star. "I think he is still working to get himself in game shape."
More reason to question Nicks’ standing with the Colts at the moment came Monday, when the veteran wideout was given a day off, a precautionary move but unusual considering the entire team had a day off Sunday, as noted by Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star.
It’s possible that Nicks simply isn’t healthy enough to be the player he proved capable of being earlier in his career. He has battled foot, knee, ankle and groin injuries within the past two years, and he has not been as productive on the field as a result.
Regardless of why Nicks is performing below par, he could continue to slide down the depth chart if he doesn’t start meeting expectations.
Early on in training camp, Nicks has been out of the starting lineup but in as an outside receiver in three-receiver sets, according to Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue. While he should still see plenty of playing time in that role assuming he maintains it, the Colts don’t use as many three-receiver sets as a lot of other teams thanks to the dual presence of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen at tight end.
It’s not implausible, however, that Nicks could fall behind rookie Donte Moncrief, who has reportedly stood out in camp, according to Wilson, if the veteran continues to struggle and/or miss time.