The Colts cut struggling wide receiver Griff Whalen today and elevated rookie tight end Justice Cunningham to the active roster. Many fans, especially those who watched him play so well at Stanford, believed Whalen could be the next great slot receiver, but he has struggled to gain separation from NFL cornerbacks and struggled to catch the ball with 9 receptions on 20 targets.
Whalen, who missed all of his rookie year with an injury, has only 6 games under his belt, which means he is eligible for the practice squad once again.
From the Colts’ media release:
Cunningham was selected by the Colts in the seventh round (254th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft and was signed to the practice squad on September 2, 2013. At South Carolina, he recorded 50 receptions for 581 yards and one touchdown in 53 games played (23 starts). In 2012, Cunningham was named a team captain and finished the year with career highs of 23 receptions for 324 yards.
Whalen played in six games this season, catching nine passes for 102 yards. He was originally signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent on April 30, 2012 and was signed to the practice squad on October 2, 2013. Whalen was elevated to the active roster on October 28.
Many Colts fans have shown their displeasure with Whalen’s most recent demotion. However, it’s worth noting that many receivers take a couple years to develop into a solid NFL player, and Whalen only began playing the position at Stanford (He was a QB/CB in high school). Currently, Griff has had a better "rookie" season than Pierre Garcon (3 catches, 24 yds.), who went on to be a pretty good receiver. Be patient, Whalen fans, all is not lost.
So, what does this move mean, other than an exchange of two players with interesting names? With no known tight end injuries at the moment, it signifies that Cunningham has earned the chance to show what he can bring to the table. It means Griff has some work to do yet. It means the coaching staff still likes WR/KR David Reed on the active roster. Lastly, it could foretell a chance for rookie WR Da’Rick Rogers to be active for Sunday’s game against Bruce Arians’s Cardinals.
The Colts are still working to replace Reggie Wayne’s production, and they need a third player to demonstrate his reliability to compliment T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener. With Whalen likely headed back to the practice squad, the candidates are now Rogers, fellow WR LaVon Brazill, TE Weslye Saunders, the top two running backs, and possibly Cunningham, if he’s active.
Both Whalen and Saunders caught a ball last game and also committed unforgivable drops of balls that hit them right on the hands. Still I would say both demonstrated better ball catching and perhaps short route running technique than DHB. DHB is a really sad for being in the league so long.
Give Whalen another shot to develop on the PS. But more importantly take advantage of our 3 game lead in the division lead and tie for the second seed in the AFC to try out some talent.
Bring on DA'RICK!
As for the Whalen vs Welker, comparison. Whalen shows little of Welker's elusive running skills that made a valuable special teamer. But, Welker took time to develop as a receiver. There may still be hope for Griff.
I finally youtubed me some Da'rick Rogers. He looks amazing. He must really be some kind of head case not to have gotten more of a shot in Buffalo. Imagine Hilton, Rogers, Fleener, and Brown. We won't have to imagine it. It'll happen Sunday. Talk about weapons: that's a like bowstaff, nunchucks, shirkins, AND a tiger's paw.
This is awesome!!! This can only mean more POWER running formations!!!!!!!!!!
(Hopefully, I was only kidding about the above and the Colts actually see something in Rogers or Reed or Brazil.)
I get what you're saying about WRs taking time to develop, but even as a rookie you could see how smooth Garçon was during the preseason. I think we all fell into the "Next Wes" fantasy with Griff and then saw he neither had the hands nor the moves. Hopefully Rogers has come along or it's going to be TY and Coby carrying the load.
BUT.... ugh... David Reed is still around! And sadly he was on offense ahead of Brazill multiple times against TEN.
Also I agree with everything said by Marcus! (yes, that includes the super awesome nickname suggestions)
I'm not deluded into thinking Cunningham will stroll in and become the next Ken Dilger or anything, but if he is a factor at all, can we please nickname him The Judge? or Justice League? I mean, c'mon, his name is Justice. Justice Cunningham sounds like a high court judge.
@smonroe Yeah, I think Fleener is a better comparison. He didn't look great in his first year, but had enough flashes to show promise. With Whalen there have been no flashes.
Fingers crossed for Rodgers. I wanted the Colts to draft him after seeing his size the clips of him running through entire teams. The fact that he hasn't stuck and wasn't drafted does give pause though.