The uber-talented tight end out of Virginia had a solid rookie season in 2022, bringing in 25 catches for 312 yards and three touchdowns. At 6-7 and 253 pounds, Woods had established himself as a vertical threat with the potential to be a weapon in new head coach Shane Steichen's offense.
Unfortunately, we have yet to see that come to fruition this season. It has not been because Woods has not played well. He has just failed to see the field at all.
The former third-round pick has been sidelined all season due to a hamstring injury he suffered in training camp. Woods has been on injured reserve all season, rehabbing in the hopes of returning before the end of this season.
With the Colts returning from their bye week on Monday, Steichen was asked about the progress Woods has been making. The answer will not be something Colts fans want to hear.
"Jelani, actually, he had a setback with his other hamstring during the rehab," Steichen revealed Monday. "So, that's where that's at right now."
When asked if it was a season-ending injury, Steichen said he did not know if that would be the case.
Hamstring injuries are tricky. Many players believe that they feel 100% and everything is good, just for a slight pull to put them back to square one. With Woods, it seems like the tight end was close to returning when another injury occurred to his other hamstring. The setback is a tough break for a player itching to return to the field.
The chances Woods returns to the field in 2023 are murky at best. The Colts have seven games remaining this season, and Woods will likely need a ramp-up period before he can establish a bigger role in the offense. It may be too little, too late for Woods to make a noticeable impact this season unless the Colts can secure a playoff berth.
The Colts will continue to roll with Drew Ogletree and Kylen Granson as their top tight ends. Both have flashed at times this season, but neither possesses the ceiling of Woods. Woods is the future at the position for the Colts, but he has to be on the field to fulfill that role.
Time will tell if Woods can return in 2023 and begin building momentum in the offense or if this year will go down as a wasted season.
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