USATSI

The Indianapolis Colts are hoping the newcomers to their roster can turn them into legitimate contenders, with the most notable addition being quarterback Matt Ryan. The former Atlanta Falcon has identified another new player who could make an immediate impact on the offense: rookie wideout Alec Pierce.

The former Cincinnati receiver was selected by Indy with the No. 53 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he caught two passes for 27 yards during the Colts' first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. However, Pierce has apparently been making some plays during joint practices with the Detroit Lions this week, which has caught the eye of Ryan.

"He's a really hard worker," Ryan said. "When you combine that with talent, the good players I've been around, they've all been that way. More than anything he does on the field, it's the combination of work ethic, competitiveness, all the intangible stuff combined with the talent. And if you're going to be a great player in this league, which I think he can be, you've got to have it all -- you've got to have the work ethic, you've got to have the confidence, and then you've got to have the skill set to do it, too. And the combination of those things is what fires me up about him."

Pierce is a big wideout at 6-foot-3, 211 pounds. He also ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, and recorded a 40.5-inch vertical with a broad jump close to 11 feet. In short, he's a long, athletic target who's full of potential.

His final season at Cincinnati was his best one as Pierce caught 52 passes for 884 yards and eight touchdowns while the Bearcats  finished a program-record 13-1. The Colts have Michael Pittman Jr. as their No. 1 wideout and a couple of intriguing targets in Parris Campbell and Keke Coutee. But Pierce sounds like he's carving out a role for himself early for Ryan.