Certainly, T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bay will have increased opportunities to connect with quarterback Andrew Luck and shine, as will tight end Coby Fleener.
But the competition for that third wide receiver spot among LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen and David Reed should be quite a fascinating development, starting with the Colts' road trip to Houston on Sunday night.
“None of us are going to be able to replace one of the greatest to ever play the game,” Whalen said after joining the 53-man roster this week. “So we're just going to have to pick it up individually, each one of us, and collectively as a group kind of come together and everybody just step their game up.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano isn't showing his hand yet on whether Brazill, Whalen or Reed will earn the suddenly available playing time after Wayne's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
“Shake them up, pull them out of a hat,” Pagano said Monday. “Someone has got to emerge in the next three days. Again, I feel great about those guys. Any one of those guys can go in there and be productive for us. So we'll see how things shake out this week.”
Let's take a look at the Colts' contestants in the Hungry Receiver Games:Brazill is a second-year receiver out of Ohio drafted in the sixth round a year ago, who missed the first four games due to a suspension for violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He assured the Colts and his teammates that those type of issues are behind him.
He played in 15 games last season, caught 11 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown. His most memorable catch was a 42-yarder against Detroit in the Colts' furious comeback win.
Brazill has been on the field briefly at San Diego and at home against Denver, but has not caught a pass this season.
Brazill might be the most likely to fill the role, given his experience with the team a year ago.Whalen is a second-year player who was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford where he played with Luck. So he has familiarity with the quarterback. He spent last season injured and did not appear in any games.
Whalen has played in four games this season, catching two passes for 28 yards in the Colts' loss to Miami on Sept.15. He was called up from the practice squad this week.
“I'm very excited for Griff, (it's) a good chance for him,” Luck said. “He's always been ready and ready to roll.”
Whalen has experience in games this season, so that's a bonus for him, although he might not have quite the speed that Brazill or Reed can deliver.Reed is in his fourth season and spent the last three years with the Baltimore Ravens, catching five passes for 66 yards in 2012.
He has returned kicks for the Colts and appeared in three games but has yet to catch a pass. Reed's speed is one of his biggest assets, but he'll have to prove he can be a reliable pass receiver.
“(We) feel good about them, feel they'll all step up,” Pagano said. “They have to. They don't have a choice. So, bringing Griff up, again, we know what Griff is. He's a reliable guy and knows all the spots. Obviously, (he) has a good comfort level with the quarterback and vice versa.
“Expect Brazill and Reed to step up, DHB, he's been in a room, they've all been in a room with one of the very best in the National Football League. So they understand what it takes, process and preparation. I feel good about this group.”
No matter which receiver steps up, one aspect won't be going away anytime soon: None of them is Reggie Wayne.