Colts: Michael Pittman Jr.’s return for November stretch will be huge

Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr.’s return for the team’s daunting November slate will be massive for the passing game.

The Indianapolis Colts haven’t delivered a complete performance in almost a month, so all eyes will be on head coach Frank Reich on Sunday against Detroit to see how the team responds following their bye.

That, however, will be easier said than done, as the Lions are quietly one game out of a playoff spot in the loaded NFC. While we don’t think Reich would allow this kind of arrogant mindset from his players, it’s also possible that Indianapolis overlooks Detroit with the rest of their daunting November schedule in mind.

After all, they will face off against the likes of Baltimore, Tennessee (twice) and Green Bay, teams that have a combined 15-3 record through seven weeks. It goes without saying that the Colts will need key players to return from injury if they have any hope of making it into December with a pulse.

Well, it just so happens that they might be welcoming an important member of the passing game, rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr., back on Sunday. To call his impending return for Week 8 and the Colts’ subsequent four matchups “huge” would be understatement.

Reich responsibly didn’t make any guarantees that Pittman would be on the field vs Detroit, as he will likely have to see how the 2020 second-round pick fares in practice, which he returned to on Wednesday for the first time in three weeks, before he comes to a firm decision on his status.

Pittman, of course, missed the Colts’ last three fixtures after undergoing surgery following Week 3’s win over the Jets to relieve lower peg pain that was ultimately determined to be caused by compartment syndrome.

We know better than to declare that Indianapolis’ aerial attack has gotten over the hump on the heels of Philip Rivers’ vintage performance vs Cincinnati’s pedestrian secondary. The 38-year-old gunslinger is just two weeks removed from an absolute horror show under center, and the last time we checked there was zero semblance of a vertical threat outside of Marcus Johnson.

Johnson’s emergence of late has helped out in that regard, but Pittman’s imposing 6-foot-4, 223-pound frame will be huge both on third down and in the red zone, where Indy is struggling mightily to generate touchdowns.

The former USC star wasn’t exactly lighting it up out of the gates to start his NFL career, registering nine receptions for 73 yards while playing 68% of the offensive snaps in three games, but at this point any reinforcements will be viewed as a massive addition.

TY Hilton still looks like a shell of his former self, and the Colts desperately need a player who can create mismatches with opposing defensive backs. Part of the reason GM Chris Ballard drafted Pittman is because he’s a matchup nightmare, so he better be made a focal part of the passing game when he does make his long-awaited return.