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Victor Oladipo, Pacers

Why Colts tight end Eric Ebron must break out this week against the Steelers

The Indianapolis Colts have overcome plenty of obstacles this season and they’ll need to do so again on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 9. With the Colts being shorthanded on offense, Eric Ebron must break out this week versus the Steelers.

Ahead of Sunday’s matchup, T.Y. Hilton has already been ruled out for the Colts. As a matter of fact, Hilton could miss the next month due to a calf injury that he sustained in practice.

The absence of Hilton could be detrimental to a Colts team that is holding onto a half-game lead over the Houston Texans in the AFC South. On top of that, Indianapolis isn’t exactly deep at the wide receiver position.

Hilton has accumulated 32 receptions for 360 yards and five touchdowns this season. Besides Hilton, the Colts are also without Devin Funchess, who was placed on injured reserve after Week 1.

With the wide receiver position being scarce, it will be up to the tight ends of the Colts to replace Hilton’s production. More specifically, Ebron will need to be the one to step up and help Jacoby Brissett in the offense.

Last year, Ebron had career-highs in receptions (66), receiving yards (750), and touchdowns (13) in his first year in Indianapolis. However, he managed to post those numbers while Andrew Luck as his quarterback.

This season, Ebron has had a somewhat difficult time getting adjusted in the offense with Brissett as the starter. In the first eight weeks, Ebron has only caught 16 passes on 29 targets for 232 yards and three touchdowns.

Ebron has been dealing with an ankle injury in practice but it isn’t expected to sideline him. That’s great news for the Colts, who are going to need him to be a reliable weapon for Brissett in a hostile environment.

Currently, the starting wide receivers for the Colts include rookie Parris Campbell, Zach Pascal, and Chester Rogers. In light of that, Ebron and Jack Doyle could create mismatches over the middle of the field.

The Steelers have a strong defense and are stout against the run. Of course, the Colts’ offense is predicated on their running game with Marlon Mack. But Pittsburgh allows just 3.7 yards per attempt (sixth-best in the NFL).

Due to that, Brissett may have to put the ball in the air more often than he would like to in Week 9. If the ball is in the air, expect Ebron to be the intended target. With those targets, he will need to perform well for the Colts to defeat the Steelers on the road.