INDIANAPOLIS – In the spring, Chuck Pagano postulated that Coby Fleener was talented enough and the club's new offense was oriented enough that the second-year tight end could double his rookie total of 26 receptions.
In camp, Pep Hamilton said Fleener was "probably having the most productive camp, including his time at Stanford, that I've seen.
"In the time that I've been around Coby, he's a lot more explosive and confident right now and he's making plays that big-time NFL players tend to make."
Fleener was a popular target of Andrew Luck and others in routes that spanned the width and almost the length of the practice fields at Anderson University.
The translation to preseason games has been a bit rough, however.
"Enormously frustrating to put it lightly, I guess," said Fleener. "I think the only thing you can do is try to learn from your mistakes and work and get better and move on."
Fleener suffered a concussion in the preseason opener, though he recovered to play at New York last Sunday. He then endured a knee sprain against the Giants.
He was targeted twice last week, once each by Luck and Matt Hasselbeck, but connections did not happen.
The attempt by Luck came on a scramble to his left deep in Colts territory and had the potential for a big gain. Fleener could not secure the catch.
"I feel like there have been some plays where I've struggled," said Fleener. "That was pretty apparent on the television (broadcast) I'm sure. I think it's all a learning experience at this point, and I'm trying to learn as best I can from it."
Television can lay bare any number of things. The eye does not blink. Neither did Fleener when pressed on the failed play with Luck.
"In the good majority of cases where you say, 'He should have caught that one,' I probably should have caught it," said Fleener. "There's some nuances to some things that we see that (people) may not see but any ball that's thrown your way, you want to catch it."
Fleener had two receptions for 37 yards in the opener, and he was a potent force in camp practices.
Like any performer, there is a mindset where performances, good and bad, are blocked out while the focus is on the next opportunity.
Fleener is at that moment as he gets ready for Saturday's Cleveland game.
"That's a good question," said Fleener on how he will block injuries and past efforts out. "I think playing professional sports forces you to be a little bit mentally tough. You have to be able to put a good play or a bad play behind you and move on to the next one.
"The only way I know how to do that is to work. Whether you lose a game, win a game, you just put your head down and work."