By Corbin Smith
Bringing Richardson on board addresses questions in the backfield, but do the Colts have any options to replace multi-talented tight end Dwayne Allen?
Allen entered this season with tremendous expectations, but his year came to a quick close after suffering a hip injury in the opener against the Oakland Raiders, and now Pep Hamilton will have to make serious adjustments to his offensive scheme without him. Coby Fleener played with Luck at Stanford, but his development has been stalled by injuries and inconsistent play to this point. With Allen out last week against Miami, Fleener received greater attention from Luck, as he managed to haul in four catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. He also had another score late in the game overturned because of an illegal shift penalty on Reggie Wayne.
Luck will have to turn to Fleener more often from this point on, but Hamilton's system uses a lot of multiple tight end formations. Second year tight end Dominique Jones will now be used in those sets as a replacement for Allen, and his inexperience could limit how often the Colts can use these formations. Jones had one catch last week and the staff appears to have confidence in him, but the team has major depth concerns at the position. The free agent market for tight ends has been picked dry since the early stages of training camp and Irsay won't be able to find any trades that bring in a quality player like he did with Richardson.
Keeping that in mind, Fleener has to finally live up to the promise he had coming out of college. He doesn't have Allen standing in front of him anymore, and he has to prove he can be a productive starter while also avoiding the injury bug that has hindered him early in his career. Against San Francisco, Luck will surely be under fire and Fleener could see a lot of targets as a drop-down receiving option this week. He needs to make the most of this opportunity, and a big game against the 49ers could do wonders for his confidence moving forward.