The number of targets in the Colts' passing game is fading fast. Peyton Manning will be without tight end Dallas Clark for the remainder of the season and wide receiver Austin Collie indefinitely.
Even though the Colts have a bye in Week 7, it won't be enough time for their ailing players to recover.
Austin Collie underwent hand surgery this week and is expected to miss at least a few weeks.
Clark, on the other hand, will be placed on injured reserve and will have surgery on the wrist he injured last week at Washington. After consulting three doctors, Clark finally decided to have the surgery, which will sideline him until next year.
The Colts' passing game is currently third in the league, averaging a healthy 319.3 yards per game. However, without Clark and Collie, Peyton Manning will be missing two of his top three targets.
Collie is fifth in the league with 503 yards receiving and tied for second with six touchdown receptions. He is in his second year out of BYU, after an impressive rookie season where he caught 60 passes for 676 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Clark was fourth among tight ends with 347 yards receiving to go with three touchdowns. He has been a favorite target of Manning for eight season, including a 2009 campaign where he caught an incredible 100 passes for 1106 yards and 10 touchdowns.
But Manning has always had the ability to spread the ball around among his wide-outs.
Pierre Garcon is an able replacement for Collie's production, and Anthony Gonzalez provides a viable option at the third wide receiver position—if he is able to recover from a high ankle sprain during the bye week.
Indianapolis isn't quite as fortunate at the tight end position.
Although the Colts do have four other tight ends on the depth chart in rookie Brody Eldridge, Justin Snow, Jacob Tamme, and the recently signed Gijon Robinson, none of them provides nearly the type of threat that Dallas Clark did.
In fact, only Eldridge has caught a pass... 3 catches for 23 yards through six games.
But if any quarterback can make a backup look like a star, it is Peyton Manning. Eldridge's lack of experience will not preclude him from seeing plenty of opportunities.
By the end of the season, Peyton Manning could turn Brody Eldridge into the newest breakout receiver in the Indianapolis Colts' offense.