"That's what every player wants," Heyward-Bey said of the opportunity to become Andrew Luck's No. 1 guy. "You want the opportunity to make plays out there on the field. I'm going to go out there — me, T.Y. (Hilton), LaVon, Griff — we're just going to try to go out there and make plays."
Hilton has been doing just that all season, with 27 catches for 412 yards and two scores. He should get even more chances as the team's No. 2 receiver, increasing his time on the field and the energy defensive coordinators must expend preparing to stop him.
Tight end Coby Fleener (22 catches, 235 yards, three touchdowns) also figures to see more targets.
But Whalen is the wild card.
Luck's former roommate at Stanford has looked good in each of the past two preseasons. A foot injury sidelined him for his rookie campaign in 2012, and he's spent the past four game weeks on the practice squad.
But he clearly understands the offense after playing under coordinator Pep Hamilton with the Cardinal, and he's shown he can be trusted to catch the ball. He also has the confidence of his quarterback.
"Very excited for Griff," Luck said after the receiver was activated Monday. "Good chance for him. He's always been ready and ready to roll."
Whalen made two catches for a total of 28 yards in a cameo appearance during the season's first three weeks. He's never spent extensive time of the active roster in the NFL, and he'll have to beat out Brazill — who was suspended for the first games this season — and Reed just to make it onto the field.
Whalen has picked out one area for improvement every day, and he said his playing speed has improved since the foot injury last season. He shares his quarterback's quiet confidence, and he understands the challenge ahead.