INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The rookie season with so much hype resumes Thursday night in what amounts to a homecoming of sorts.
Parris Campbell, the former Ohio State and St. Mary-St. Vincent (Akron) High School standout, is expected to make his first appearance when the Indianapolis Colts close their preseason against the Bengals in Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium.
While Campbell, the Colts’ second-round draft pick, conceded “it’ll be cool to get back to the state of Ohio,’’ he’s more excited to simply make his rookie debut.
“It’s very important,’’ he said Tuesday. “I missed basically all of camp. Being a first-year player in the NFL, the game speed is a little bit different so you definitely need the reps.
“But I’m excited to get back those reps that I can.’’
Campbell missed the final 12 practices of training camp in Westfield after suffering an injury to his right hamstring. He returned to practice for the first time Monday, apparently without incident.
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“Yeah, he got through practice well,’’ Frank Reich said. “It’s looking like he is going to play this week a little bit.
“He’s a rookie, and he needs to play, get a feel because he has been out for a little bit.’’
The Colts anticipated using the swift, versatile Campbell in various ways this season. That still might be the case, but missing so much of camp might mean a more restricted role – perhaps out of the slot – as a rookie.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say (I’m) behind,’’ he said. “It’s just the reps. Mentally, I think I’m there.’’
Physically, Campbell is convinced he’s there.
“I feel fine,’’ he said. “I feel back to my old self. I was kind of down in the dumps during that time (at camp), but I’m back happy. Energy’s there. I feel good.’’
While the final preseason game generally is a final audition for players trying to make the roster, Thursday is important to Campbell for another reason.
“I think I just need to get my feet wet,’’ he said. “Playing fast, taking hits, catching the ball, seeing the ball and not just standing in front of a JUGS machine.’’
Game 4 will mirror Game 3.
“The 1s won’t play,’’ Reich said of Thursday night’s game. “There might even be a couple of other guys who don’t play.
“This will be a great opportunity for the guys who are playing to put one last look on tape to show us and really show the league what you can do. Tough decisions at the back end of the roster and every play is important.’’
The 90-man preseason roster is cut to 53 Saturday.
Reich didn’t offer an update on a pair of injured Colts: defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) and running back Jordan Wilkins (foot). His only comment on Wilkins was “progress and optimistic.’’
Also, wide receiver Devin Funchess continued to miss time with a back-spasm issue.
“We are just trying to make sure to get him ready for week 1 and play it safe since we knew he wasn’t going to be playing (at Cincinnati),’’ Reich said. “But he is making good progress and feel fairly confident he will be ready.’’
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