INDIANAPOLIS –Over the first two preseason games, coaches and fans have gotten peaks at faces old and new vying to make the 2012 Colts roster.
Saturday will bring a chance to see another newcomer try to make an impact. Wide receiver Donnie Avery is among the numerous faces brought in this year to help the club reload after a 2-14 finish in 2011.
Avery, 5-11, 200, is overcoming a camp injury that cost him the first two games. Impressive all spring and through the early camp with his ability, Avery is ready to go.
"I feel good. I got a lot of reps with the ones (first unit)," said Avery of the practice week. "I'm ready to play. I'm tired of sitting out the past two weeks. I'm ready to go."
Avery has displayed the speed coveted by the club earlier this year. A former second-round choice of St. Louis in 2008, the 33rd player taken overall and the first receiver selected, Avery has 103 receptions for 1,308 yards and nine touchdowns in 39 career outings.
Avery can add to the veteran presence of the receiving corps, joining Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie as battle-tested performers. They are joined by a bevy of younger receivers who are making inroads as well.
"Whenever you've got your teammates practicing, it's always good. We need as many guys out there working as possible," said Wayne. "Donnie is very important to our offense, so it's always good to have him out there.
"Hopefully you see some big things, some big-play ability. He's a guy that can stretch the field and make things happen. I've seen him at work through the years in the past. Hopefully, he can bring some of that explosiveness to the team this year."
Avery started 28 of 31 games with St. Louis during his first two seasons. He missed the 2010 season with a knee injury (ACL) that he helped recover from by working with Olympic track coach Alan Powell during last year's lockout. He ran 100- and 200-yard dashes at full speed for a hopeful return to the level that saw him post a blistering 40-yard dash time (4.27) when coming out of college.
It was the notion of stretching the field that inclined the club to add Avery, and he will now apply the mental reps he has been relegated to since the camp injury.
"I just took a lot of mental reps. That was the way," said Avery. "I was disappointed because I was with the Rams and I wanted to play against them (in the preseason opener). That was pretty hard. I'm just staying focused. I'm ready to go this week. Everything is on track and clicking well. I feel good."
Cornerback Jerraud Powers has worked against Avery and sees a gifted target.
"His talent jumped out quickly. It doesn't take him long to get his speed going," said Powers. "Donnie runs good routes. He catches the ball well. He does all the little things right. He's definitely going to be a big-play guy for us."
Avery missed some valuable acclimation time with the offense and quarterback Andrew Luck. He feels he caught up on some of that this week.
"It's good," said Avery of his timing with the rookie quarterback. "We got a couple of deep balls this week. We got some slants and in-routes. It's good. I'm just going to tune into the play calls and do my assignments."
Avery will join Wayne in the lineup this week. He commented earlier this year how the club's multiple-receiver sets fits his talents well.
Wayne has not missed a step in practice and in the first two games. He still finds himself getting used to the new offense and while he welcomes the return of Avery, he likes the younger receivers who have fared well to this point.
"It's (the production) coming along good. Including myself, there are some little things that we keep messing up on, but that's what the preseason is for especially with a new offense," said Wayne. "We've got the rest of this week and next week to get that ironed out so hopefully by week one, we'll have no more of those mistakes.
"But those (younger) guys are coming along good. This is probably, maybe not, but probably the most talented bunch I've been around as a corps. We've got some guys that can run really fast. We've got some smart guys, guys that enjoy taking notes and want to be good. Whenever you see that, there's a promising future for those guys. So hopefully they (won't) hit that rookie wall too early and keep it going."
While Wayne establishes himself completely, he is willing to assist others. Yet, he does not want to contribute to information overload.
"I give my little two cents every once in a while, but those guys have a lot of stuff going on in their heads already. I try to keep it down to a minimum, unless they ask me a question about something, which they do a lot," said Wayne. "But those guys are professionals. They understand what to do or what to look for. Whenever there's something tricky, that's when they ask me what my thoughts are and how I'm seeing this or seeing that. I do the same thing with them, you know, it works hand-in-hand.
"Everything is coming along. As a team, I think everyone is buying into the system and understanding what is going on. As a whole, we believe that we can be a really good bunch and surprise a lot of people, so hopefully we continue to have that mindset and keep moving forward."