ANDERSON – Austin Collie has been a 16-game contributor in the Indianapolis offense in two of his prior three seasons.
The year he was not came in 2010, and he was on a torrid pace with 58 receptions in nine outings before injuries ended his season.
Collie has amassed 172 receptions for 1,839 yards and 16 touchdowns in opening 16 of 41 career outings, and the 2012 season is one that is fraught with opportunity for the Brigham Young product.
Collie and Reggie Wayne are the most tenured receivers in training camp, and each is working in a new offense for the first time in their careers. Collie, who has operated predominantly in the slot since 2009, has a chance for an expanded role this season. It is one that intrigues him.
"Just the fact I'm playing outside is going to be a bit different," said Collie. "I'm ready for it and I'm excited. It's what I played in all college.
"I've had a couple of opportunities here with the Colts to play on the outside when Pierre (Garcon) has been down. It's fun. It's a little bit slower. You get to see the whole field, and you're not in all that congestion."
Collie has functioned well in that congestion of linebackers and defensive backs, becoming one of the most reliable targets for Colts quarterbacks. He has averaged 10.7 yards per reception for his career, twice topping an 11.0 seasonal average (11.3, 2009; 11.2, 2010).
Last year was as difficult for Collie as it was for the entire offense. Kerry Collins, Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky all started at quarterback in what was a season of struggle. Indianapolis started more signal-callers in 2012 than it had from 1998-2010 combined (one). Continuity was a casualty.
"Last year was tough because so much of what we do on the offensive side of the ball, even now, is relied on timing, getting used to each other and being on the same page," said Collie. "Having the situation that we had last year where we had a different quarterback every other week, it's tough. It's tough getting on the same page and trying to get to that point where you can tell where everyone is going to be. The ball coming at you, everyone's ball is a little different."
With a different offense this year comes a new quarterback in Andrew Luck, the top pick in the draft. Luck has taken charge in his few weeks with the team, something a young quarterback must do in establishing himself. The storied Stanford quarterback has been embraced by his teammates, all of whom can see the talents and poise he possesses.
"(He's) just putting the ball where it needs to be. He's taking ownership of the team and taking ownership of the offense," said Collie. "He's done a great job over the past few weeks of making sure everyone knows he's the quarterback and that he's the chief and the commander."
Collie says he has been able to digest the playbook that has been fed aggressively by the coaching staff this spring. It is an attack that aims for a physical running attack, but one that will employ multiple receivers – thus the opportunity to contribute.
For Collie, a meticulous sort, he will rely on his old preparation methods.
"Just stick with the usual stuff. (I need to) make sure I remain calm and relaxed and go out there and play," said Collie. "This being my fourth year, I think I've gotten to the point where I feel comfortable going out there. The speed of the game has slowed down a little bit. That's just the main thing, make sure I'm executing and on the (details)."
The first chance to run the offense is about 48 hours away as the Colts host St. Louis in a sold out preseason game on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in Lucas Oil Stadium. Collie anticipates the chance to measure his club and offense against an opponent.
"I'm anxious to see where everybody is, where our whole offense is, where our whole defense is, where we are as a team. I think this will give us a good idea," said Collie. "It's a new offense. Everybody's asking questions. Everybody is communicating. … I think I've made some good progress in learning the playbook and good progress in getting comfortable on the outside."