Colts Lose Another Game-Changer in Austin Collie



The Indianapolis Colts can’t seem to catch a break on the injury front in 2010.

The team’s latest casualty is wide receiver Austin Collie, who on Wednesday was placed on injured reserve after suffering a concussion Sunday in the second quarter of the Colts’ 34-24 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was the third time this season that Collie was knocked out of a game with concussion-like symptoms.

Collie’s placement on IR is the 17th such roster move Indianapolis has made in 2010. Six regular Colts starters, Collie included, have received the season-ending sanction with injury.

Admirably enough, the Colts have managed to withstand the losses of so many players, and they now control their own destiny for the AFC South title with two games remaining.

But if Collie’s performance against Jacksonville before suffered his concussion told us anything, it’s that the Colts are losing another game-changer. Collie’s eight receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the first half powered Indy’s offense, and quarterback Peyton Manning had little trouble spreading the ball around and moving down the field against the Jaguars’ defense. In the second half, Manning and Co. struggled to move the ball through the air without the second-year wideout, completing only three passes for double-digit yardage in the final two periods.

Even while missing four games since suffering his first concussion in a Week 9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Collie has made a Dallas Clark-like impact on the Indy offense whenever he has been in the lineup. Much like the All-Pro tight end, who was placed on IR on Oct. 22 with a wrist injury, Collie consistently caused matchup problems in the middle of the field (which many consider a reason for his concussions), was deadly in the red zone and served as a safety net for Manning.

With both Clark and Collie now gone from the lineup, Manning and the Colts’ offense must make do without that game-changer in the middle. Reggie Wayne is a perennial Pro Bowler and has lined up in the slot on numerous occasions — when all his teammates have been present. Without matchup nightmares like Clark and Collie, there’s not much shuffling around Indy can do; Wayne and Pierre Garcon will probably have to stay out wide. Tight end Jacob Tamme has been solid in Clark’s absence, ranking seventh among all NFL tight ends with 53 receptions on the season, but he hasn’t displayed the same versatility that has made Clark one of the most feared offensive weapons in the game. As for replacing Collie, undrafted free agent Blair White has impressed with a 9.47 yards-per-catch average and four touchdowns, but again, filling the shoes of a proven difference-maker is no small task.

As long as Peyton Manning is the Colts’ quarterback, you can never write them off. However, the four-time MVP will have to get the most out of a woefully depleted supporting cast on the road to a ninth consecutive playoff berth.

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