INDIANAPOLIS –Wide receiver Austin Collie returned to practice on Monday and Wednesday of this week with the hope of returning to action for the first time since suffering a concussion on August 19 at Pittsburgh.
The concussion was the first for Collie since suffering the same type of injury during the 2010 season. That year, he suffered concussions at Philadelphia on November 7 and against Jacksonville on December 19. He exited the Colts' game at New England on November 21 with symptoms related to a concussion.
Speaking prior to Thursday's practice, Collie gave no indication what this weekend will hold. His only focus was on today.
"It's a day-to-day thing. We're just going to continue to see how I feel," said Collie. "I don't want to make a definite statement of, 'Yes, I am playing on Sunday. No, I'm not playing on Sunday.' We still have time. I want to see how things go today. I want to see how things go tomorrow. We'll go from there.
"It's up to the doctors. It's up to the coaches. Whatever the doctors say, whatever the coaches say, I'm going to obey. I'm going to do what they say. I'm not focused on Sunday or what's going to happen. All I'm focusing on now is getting better today."
Collie says he feels good and that it feels the same way to be working and running with his teammates. On Monday, Head Coach Chuck Pagano said the receiver was fine in practice in muggy conditions, and Collie was a full participant in Wednesday's work.
He is aware of the concerning nature of his injury and is grateful for the expressions made by many people around the team. His family shares the same feelings, and Collie believes that is where the decision lies about him returning when the time is right.
"I'm grateful that I have fans, that the Colts have fans that are loyal, writers that are loyal that want what's best for me," said Collie. "Me and my family are the only ones who know what's best for me. It's our decision. This is our life, my career.
"Obviously, people are going to have their opinion. People are going to have basically an idea of what I should do and what my family should say, or how they should intervene, or how the coaches should intervene, or how the organization should intervene. That's fine. Everyone should have their own opinion. What it all comes down to is it's my choice. It's my wife's choice. It's my family's choice."
Collie said he is not sure if the issue is behind him and that it is frustrating when it has kept him from his normal routine when healthy. He is mindful of the care needed to address the matter, and he has complete regard for the medical opinions he hears.
"That's really the only opinion outside my family that I care about, is what the doctors say. As of right now, we're moving forward," said Collie. "It's a day-by-day thing. There's no definite timetable. Right now, we're just taking it day-by-day. The first step is to get back out there and practice. That's what I'm doing. I feel good."
He was pleased to hear Pagano's opinion of his practice performance. Collie also stated that he is not bothered that there was no fine assessed for the hit he took. While he would have preferred to avoid the hit, Collie said it was within the nature of the sport.
When asked if he considers his long-term health, Collie said it is something on each player's mind.
"I think everybody in this locker room thinks about what's going to happen long-term, whether you've had concussions or whether you've had major knee surgery," said Collie. "It's part of the game. That's the sacrifice I think we all knew we were going to make coming into the NFL. When we do get older, there are going to be some aches and some pains. Everyone can sit there and say, 'But, it's your head.' If the doctors say I'm okay and everything checks out, I'm going to go."
He said he has switched to a new helmet, a model he likes and evidently has aided the career of former teammate Dallas Clark, who, too, had concussion issues. Collie hopes the switch provides the same result enjoyed by Clark, now with Tampa Bay.
As for his return to the field, it is to be determined. Collie does know he wants to return, but only when it is the right time.
"You ask any player who's been sitting around for a couple of weeks, you get antsy," said Collie. "You come into the complex every single day. You watch film that you're not in. You have to hear coaches basically talk to other guys but you about different routes, different techniques and stuff like that. You kind of get a little lonely. You kind of get antsy to get back out there, but the main thing is I just stay patient.
"Like I said, take it day-by-day. You can't let that anxiety or that antsiness to get back out there kind of overwhelm you and take over the fact that you have to do what's good for your health. If that's wait, then wait. If you're ready to play, then play."