In three years as a pro, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie has been tagged as a reliable slot receiver. Under first-year head coach Chuck Pagano, however, Collie is now looking to become a more viable downfield target for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
Alongside Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne, Collie never had a chance to be one of the top two receivers. He became a sort of an Anthony Gonzalez redux (who himself was a Brandon Stokley redux): a guy who'd go over the middle and excel in the role as a possession receiver. Now, with Garcon in Washington, Collie has the opportunity to play opposite Wayne in the Colts' new-look offense under Pagano and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
“Before I was more like the security blanket,” Collie said, according to the Anderson (Ind.) Herald Bulletin. “Now I am going to focus on being able to make the big play down the field. I feel like that means I have a lot more responsibility.”
Responsibility, indeed. Collie will need to be a far more prolific pass-catcher down the field than he has in his first three seasons if he hopes to offset what the Colts lost in Garcon. Collie hasn't approached 1,000 yards receiving -- something Wayne has done seven out of the last eight seasons with Garcon and Marvin Harrison playing on the other side of the field. And, oh yeah, Peyton Manning was throwing him the ball.
Still, Collie will have help. Indianapolis signed Donnie Avery in March, as well as drafting the speedy T.Y. Hilton in the third round. The Colts also drafted two pass-catching tight ends in Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. And, after catching passes from one of the all-time greats in Peyton Manning, Collie will now have the opportunity to play with an up-and-comer in Luck.
“I have been able to play with a player that most people think is the best ever to play the position,” Collie told the paper. “Now I get Andrew. He is on it pretty good. How quick he is picking up this offense is a tribute to his intelligence. You can just tell that he’s a smart individual.”
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