INDIANAPOLIS — Twelve different receivers have caught a touchdown pass this season for the Colts.
Despite making his debut as a part-time tight end Sunday at Jacksonville, Joe Haeg never was in danger of becoming lucky No. 13.
“No, there wasn’t (a play on the call sheet for me), unfortunately,” the erstwhile offensive lineman joked Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “I’m pushing for it, but we’ll see.”
Haeg, who has played all five offensive line positions during his three-year career, added tight end to his repertoire as Indianapolis (6-6) searched for ways to replace do-everything Jack Doyle.
Eric Ebron's snaps increased significantly, and he led the team with 16 targets and 10 catches against the Jags. Ryan Hewitt picked up some of Doyle's blocking responsibilities, and Erik Swoope also received one target that resulted in a controversial reception as time expired.
But Mo Alie-Cox — considered the second-best blocker in the tight end group — missed the game with a calf injury. So the coaching staff got creative, and Haeg added another line item to his resume.
“The main thing is just having an extra blocker out there when we can,” Haeg said. “Jack, he’s a great pass catcher, route runner, but also he’s a phenomenal blocker. So any time we can help, in a clear running situation, just throw me in there, and I’ll help out wherever I can.”
Haeg is (mostly) joking about running a route and becoming a part of the read progression. But it would be dangerous to bet against it.
The former North Dakota State star has displayed unique versatility since his rookie season. His debut at tight end, however, took his utility role to another level.
There was a minor transition necessary for his new role, but it's one Haeg has grown accustomed to navigating.
“For me, it’s just slightly different,” he said. “It’s not much different — the run blocking and the same technique stuff. It’s just understanding who you have to go to, just because on the edge it kind of gets a little bit fuzzy with the rules. But I just go out there, play fast. We’re all communicating. We’re all on the same page. And just kind of go from there.”
As with all things involving Haeg, it's not a permanent change. The move was discussed during the Tuesday corrections meeting last week and installed as part of the gameplan.
Depending on health and availability, Haeg could return to his more traditional offensive line role this week at Houston.
He's ready for whatever role he's called upon to play.
“My main goal is to win games and make the playoffs and all that extra stuff,” Haeg said. “However that has to happen, I’m ready to help.”
ED BLOCK COURAGE AWARD
Doyle has been named by his teammates as Indianapolis' recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award this season.
All 32 teams select a player to represent them at the annual banquet in March in Baltimore. An individual winner will be voted upon during that gathering.
“It truly is an honor to receive the Ed Block Courage Award,” Doyle said in a team release. “Anytime you are voted on by your peers, it brings a whole new meaning to the award. I am thankful for the Colts organization and its dedication to the community, which has impacted me in my ability to give back. Knowing who the prior recipients are and to be viewed in that group is something I will always cherish.”
Safety Clayton Geathers was the Colts' winner in 2017. Other previous winners include quarterback Andrew Luck (2016), defensive ends Robert Mathis (2011) and Dwight Freeney (2010), center Jeff Saturday (2008), wide receiver Reggie Wayne (2006) and quarterback Peyton Manning (2001).
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) briefly left Sunday's loss with Jacksonville after a tussle with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and he was among eight players who did not participate in Wednesday's practice.
Center Ryan Kelly (knee), who has missed the past two games, worked on the sideline with a trainer during the portion of practice open to the media. Tight end Eric Ebron (back/illness), defensive tackle Margus Hunt (knee), wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (shoulder), safety Mike Mitchell (calf), Cox (calf) and Geathers (knee) were the others who did not participate.
Cornerback Nate Hairston (ankle), safety Malik Hooker (hip), cornerback Chris Milton (hamstring), wide receiver Chester Rogers (groin) and Swoope (knee) were limited participants.