Anthony Gonzalez Says His Speed is Back After Missing Much of Last Season
INDIANAPOLIS – Anthony Gonzalez has something to prove.
And Gonzalez said although that's true, he also said it's not necessarily for the reasons some observers and analysts might believe.
It's not because of competition at his position, wide receiver.
Or because he is returning after a difficult season.
Gonzalez, a first-round selection by the Colts in the 2007 NFL Draft, said what he wants to prove in the coming months has less to do with his individual, specific circumstance and far more to do with something more basic, and that's this:
He's in the NFL.
And there, there's always something to prove.
"I think you have to re-prove yourself whether you're an All-Pro or a rookie or coming off an injury," Gonzalez said this week following a session of the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented activities scheduled to be held through June 11 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"This is the NFL. They are phenomenal athletes here. No matter who you are, you kind of have to re-prove yourself every year."
Whatever there is to prove, Gonzalez is a major storyline for the Colts entering OTAs.
That's partly because he never got the chance to be a major storyline last season.
Gonzalez, who played extensively his first two seasons and entered last season as the Colts' starting outside wide receiver opposite Reggie Wayne, sustained a knee injury in the regular-season opening victory over Jacksonville last season.
He spent the next few months rehabilitating, then was placed on injured reserve late in the season having played one game.
He practiced this week when the Colts opened OTAs, and while Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said he looked good this week, Caldwell said that has been true the last several weeks.
"I've had the chance to watch him here the last few weeks actually," Caldwell said. "He's moving well, and certainly catching the ball well, but also I just think he looks like he's well equipped to start right where he left off.
"I think he's done very well at this point."
Gonzalez said while he doesn't know if or when he'll be 100 percent, "I know I'm pretty darn close."
"My speed is back," he said Thursday. "My route-running feels like it is there. There is a little bit of rust there, but I think that's just being out for a year, not necessarily having an injury. I think I'm as close as I'll be, but I do feel good.
"The speed was really my big concern and that's back, so that's an answered question in my mind."
With Gonzalez out much of last season, Pierre Garcon – a third-year veteran from Mount Union – started much of the season on the outside, catching 47 passes for 765 regular-season yards and four touchdowns. Austin Collie, a fourth-round 2009 draft pick from Brigham Young, played extensively in the slot, catching 60 passes for 676 yards and seven touchdowns.
With four-time Pro Bowl selection Reggie Wayne catching 100 passes for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns, the Colts next season could return one of their deepest groups of wide receivers in the last decade. What receiver will play where is something Caldwell said will be examined in the coming weeks and months.
"Right now, that's probably one of the great things about this time of year," Caldwell said. "It gives us a chance to look at a little bit of everything. He (Gonzalez) has a lot of versatility, obviously. He played both previously, both inside and outside, and that certainly could be the case going forward in the future.
"We want to take a look at everyone and see how they perform in their particular roles and adjust them as we go."
Gonzalez, who caught 94 passes for 1,240 yards in his first two NFL seasons, played extensively in the slot and outside as a rookie, then played mostly in the slot in 2008.
"The thing is everybody had such great years last year, so it will be interesting to see," Gonzalez said. "I don't know what is going to happen. I've been told that I'm going to have the opunity to compete for my job again, and that's all that I really want is an opportunity. That's all I've ever wanted.
"I think every one of the receivers is going to prepare like crazy and 'earn that spot,' whatever it is. That's kind of my approach."
Whatever his future role, Gonzalez said after three seasons in the NFL, and after missing most of one of those seasons, he knows that any position in the NFL must be earned.
"It happens every year on every team, pretty much," Gonzalez said. "There is a guy, maybe he doesn't take it serious enough, maybe he doesn't understand the challenge, but you see it all the time, where teams just move on. I guess my approach, which isn't any different from last year really, but my approach is to make sure that I'm the best player I can be and hope that's good enough to contribute.
"It's nice to just finally be back and feel like you're part of the team, again."