Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell enjoyed a standout practice on Wednesday. Reporters in attendance stated that Campbell caught a healthy eight passes from new starting quarterback Matt Ryan. It accounted for nearly half of Ryan’s throwing attempts throughout the session.
Campbell is currently healthy and running with the first team at organized team activities (OTAs). Head Coach Frank Reich is desperately searching for consistency at the receiver position opposite Michael Pittman Jr. Campbell could emerge as a consistent target should he remain healthy, but his questionable and lengthy injury history indicates it’s far too early to buy into the Campbell hype. The ongoing chemistry being developed between Ryan and Campbell is worth monitoring, but there’s a large buyer beware tag assigned to it.
Campbell is electric with the ball in his hands. The former Ohio State standout carries the profile of a speedy receiver with the potential to be a legitimate yards-after-catch producer while starting in the slot. The issue is that since entering the league as a second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, Campbell has only appeared in 15 of a possible 49 regular-season contests. In 2021, Campbell first dealt with an abdomen injury before a significant foot injury suffered in Week 6 cost him the majority of the regular season. Campbell returned in Indianapolis’ crucial Week 17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars but failed to record a reception. In a short three-year span, Campbell has broken his foot, suffered a PCL and MCL injury in his left knee, fractured his hand, and suffered a concussion. It’s unfortunately been one thing after another for Campbell, which gives us pause despite the encouraging reports currently coming out of Indianapolis.
Colts General Manager Chris Ballard hasn’t invested a ton into the wide receiver position this offseason, despite entering the summer with a clear need for more depth and difference-makers. Ballard did use his first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft on former Cincinnati Bearcats standout Alec Pierce. Pierce is expected to take up a starring role rather quickly, but question marks remain across the entire position group. Local legend T.Y. Hilton remains an unrestricted free agent and his future hangs in the balance. Hilton has been largely ineffective in recent showings, and the Colts may prefer to move forward with a younger group. An abundance of young players will receive opportunities to prove themselves, and none carry more potential than Campbell does.
When analyzing the group behind Pittman and Pierce, Campbell clearly stands out as the player with the highest ceiling. He’s also the one Ballard invested into via a premium top-60 draft selection. The likes of Ashton Dulin, Keke Coutee, and Mike Strachan could see an increased amount of opportunities throughout training camp should Campbell suffer another injury, but as things stand, the former Buckeye is making a notable impression on the same front-office brass that believed in him in 2019. The Colts still possess approximately $12.7 million in cap space, via Spotrac, and could add a veteran contributor before Week 1 marks its arrival. Julio Jones could be a sensible target given his previous history with Ryan.
Campbell was a dynamic playmaker at Ohio State. The Akron, Ohio native is capable of running the entire route tree while knifing through every level of opposing defenses. His ability to thrive on quick-hitters and designed touches are where his skill set could excel in today’s pass-happy league. It also meshes nicely with Ryan, who prefers to get the football out of his hands in a timely, efficient manner. The Colts have stuck behind Campbell through the darkest of times. It’s been said before, but 2022 may truly qualify as a make-or-break, last-ditch attempt for Campbell to salvage an NFL career. Continued health-related issues would obviously hamper his ability to make the desired impact.
The Colts have hardly addressed their need for difference-making wide receivers this offseason. Ballard and Reich will provide Campbell with an opportunity. The early reports from Colts camp are promising, but Campbell must remain consistent while overcoming the health-related issues that have stalled his career.