The Indianapolis Colts have announced today that they have waived 3rd-year wideout Griff Whalen, who was also serving as the team’s primary kick and punt returner throughout much of the season. Whalen was the 5th wideout on the depth chart behind T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, and Donte Moncrief, but as mentioned, was used mostly on special teams as a returnman.
Aug 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Zurlon Tipton (37) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Saints won 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
As a kick returner, Whalen was ranked 13th in the NFL at 25.3 yards per return. While his performance wasn’t necessarily bad by any means, the kick return game had suffered increased hiccups in recent weeks, including a near-safety against the New England Patriots last weekend. That botched play may have been the last straw, as the Colts signed acclaimed returnman Josh Cribbs earlier this week to shore up the return game.
Apparently, with Cribbs’ arrival, Whalen was a luxury that the team could no longer afford on their roster and was subsequently released to make room for rookie running back Zurlon Tipton. With Ahmad Bradshaw out for the season with a broken ankle, the team needed to add a 3rd running back to its active roster with Trent Richardson and Dan Herron as its only two other active running backs. Tipton had spent time with the team in preseason and having been activated from the practice squad, already has a great familiarity with the offense and playbook.
At 6’0″, 231 pounds, signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Michigan, Tipton is a bigger back than the rest of the Colts’ running back stable. He could see a role in situational, short-yardage run packages going forward. In 4 games during this year’s preseason, he had 31 attempts for 93 total rushing yards (3.0 ypc).