INDIANAPOLIS — Chuck Pagano had a little fun with the media during his Monday news conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Asked who the Colts' third wide receiver will be Sunday night against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis' head coach turned the question back on his interrogator.
"I don't know. Who would you classify as our third receiver?" Pagano asked. "Shake them up, pull them out of a hat. Someone has got to emerge in the next three days."
This is but one of the challenges in the wake of Reggie Wayne's season-ending knee injury. The star receiver underwent surgery Friday and will rejoin the team as a sort of assistant wide receivers coach as soon as doctors clear him for travel.
Replacing him on the field, however, will be a complicated and multi-tiered process.
One of the first steps will be identifying the player who will take the field in the Colts' three-wide receiver sets. Barring another move from general manager Ryan Grigson — and the active roster stood at 52 Monday evening, leaving one space open for an addition — the list of candidates includes LaVon Brazill, David Reed and the recently recalled Griff Whalen.
"Again, I feel great about all those guys," Pagano said. "Any one of those guys can go in there and be productive for us. So we'll see how things shake out this week."
Strictly speaking, Darrius Heyward-Bey will get the first crack at replacing Wayne. The sixth-year receiver signed in the offseason after being released in Oakland has 18 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown this year.
He's battled with dropped passes, missing key opportunities in a loss three weeks ago at San Diego and again in the win two weeks ago against Denver. But he's also carried the load of being a quarterback's primary target in the past, and his 6-foot-2 frame and elite speed give him the tools to be successful.