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Colts WR Parris Campbell On Injury-Prone Label: “To Hell with That”

The fourth-year wide receiver is healthy and ready to prove the doubters wrong in a crucial contract year in Indy.

It is hard to find an NFL player with worse luck to begin his career than Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell.

Drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Campbell came to the Colts with quite a bit of hype surrounding him. Coming off a season at Ohio State, where he hauled in 90 catches for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns, Campbell was an electric talent for the Buckeyes. Head coach Frank Reich could only imagine what he could do in the Colts’ offense.

Reich made a huge push for Campbell in the draft room that year, and general manager Chris Ballard obliged. Campbell was the highest-drafted wide receiver by the Colts at the time as the team desperately needed a dynamic weapon on the outside.

Unfortunately, his body has failed him every year since.

Campbell’s rookie season was derailed by injuries as he suffered an abdominal injury, fractured hand, and broken foot. Three surgeries throughout the year caused him to miss nine games. His second season was even worse, with a sprained MCL and PCL in Week 2 forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

“Like, obviously rookie year, it was what it was,” Campbell explained. “I had three different surgeries and then Year 2, torn MCL, PCL, like going through that knee injury, that was probably the toughest thing I’ve been through in my life.”

2021 saw Campbell get off to a good start, playing in four of the Colts’ first five games. Then in Week 6, as Campbell caught a 51-yard touchdown pass, the pain began to creep in after the play. A significant foot sprain sidelined Campbell once again, with the wide receiver unable to return until the final week of the season.

“When I got hurt against Houston with my foot, for a quick second it was like, ‘Dang not again, I’ve got to go through this again.’”

Oct 17, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (1) catches the ball for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

After three seasons, Campbell has only been able to play in 15 of a possible 49 games. He has only tallied 34 catches for 360 yards and two touchdowns with the Colts. For a player the Colts had so much excitement for, it’s hard to label his tenure anything but a disappointment so far.

But Campbell is not giving up. The last three years have been tremendously hard on him. Who wouldn’t be terribly disappointed after the bad luck he’s had? Yet Campbell has learned much about himself and his drive through these injury-riddled seasons.

“I think that just everything that I’ve been through has kind of built my mental state,” Campbell admitted. “Just being able to bounce back from (the injuries) and be back where I am today like healthy, that did a lot for me mentally because shoot, that was definitely one of the darkest times in my life. So, like mentally now, whatever is thrown my way, I know I’m going to be able to bounce from it.”

Campbell has not only had to deal with the internal pressure to stay healthy and overcome his injuries, but the outside noise has been there as well. Regardless if it is fair or not, Campbell is labeled by some as a draft “bust.” It certainly does not help that there were multiple receivers taken after the Colts selected Campbell No. 59 overall that have blossomed into Pro Bowl level players.

A few of the receivers drafted after Campbell include:

  • D.K. Metcalf (Seattle Seahawks, No. 64): 216 rec, 3,170 yds, 29 TDs
  • Diontae Johnson (Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 66): 254 rec, 2,764 yds, 20 TDs
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  • Terry McLaurin (Washington Commanders, No. 76): 222 rec, 3,090 yds, 16 TDs
  • Hunter Renfrow (Las Vegas Raiders, No. 149): 208 rec, 2,299 yds, 15 TDs

While he hears all the outside noise about his health and the labels around his career, he believes he can still be a top player for the Colts.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell (1) warms up before the team's game against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Indianapolis Colts At Baltimore Ravens At M T Bank Stadium In Baltimore Maryland Monday Night Football Oct 11 2021

“From the outside looking in, people say, ‘Oh, he can’t stay healthy.’ Excuse my language, but to hell with that,” Campbell said defiantly. “I know who I am at the end of the day, I know what type of player I am. I know why I was drafted here, and the staff room, they know. They know I’ve been through a lot, but they know the type of player I am as well. So, just when it all comes together, people on the outside stay on the outside.”

It is true the Colts do still have faith in Campbell. Both Ballard and Reich have spoken this offseason about Campbell and their belief that he can become a vital part of the offense.

“I don’t want to forget about Parris either,” Ballard said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m not quitting on Parris Campbell … Parris Campbell is still a very talented guy. Unfortunate for the injury part of it, but the flashes have been really good with Parris. So hopefully we’ll see it come to fruition. I mean the guy has worked and done everything he can do. He’s just had some bad luck.”

If there was ever a year to bring things to fruition, it’s in 2022. Campbell is entering a contract year and has yet to prove he can stay healthy and counted on. He has the support of the team, but he will have to show that the injuries are behind him and he can be a difference-maker if he wants a second contract in Indy.

If Campbell can stay healthy, he has a shot at having a big role in the Colts’ offense. Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce are the likely starters on the outside, but Campbell has the inside track to be the starter in the slot. With Matt Ryan the new quarterback under center, Campbell could have plenty of chances to use his blazing speed and yards after catch ability to make defenses pay.

As far as his health is concerned, how is Campbell feeling now?

“I feel great,” he revealed. “I feel great, healthy. First real like healthy offseason. So, it’s good to have that under my belt but yeah, I feel good.”

The Colts and Campbell both are hoping it stays that way.

Have thoughts on Parris Campbell's potential 2022 season? Drop a line in the comments below and let us know what you think!

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