The silver-lining for Anthony Gonzalez's injury in Week One was the rapid, forced development of wide receivers Pierre Garçon and Austin Collie. And while many have expressed frustration that both Garçon and Collie have been erratic throughout the year, the reality is that inconsistency is the hallmark for all young receivers, good and bad. Also, factor in that it usually takes a receiver three years before they finally start looking like they are worth something. Call it the Reggie Wayne Scale, if you must. I remember from 2001-2003, Colts fans (stupidly) applied the "bust" label to Reggie Wayne, maintaining that the Colts should have taken a defensive player (Kyle Vanden Bosch, maybe?), or not traded down to get Wayne and taken a defensive tackle like Ryan Pickett.
This is why fans are fans and Bill Polian is god.
Today, I'm one of the leading schmucks on the Internets who thinks Reggie Wayne is the best wide receiver in football. And if you compare Pierre Garçon's second year numbers (26 catches, 403 yards, 3 TDs) or Austin Collie's rookie numbers (38 catches, 408 yards, 3 TDs) with Reggie Wayne's second year numbers (49 catches for 716 yards and 4 TDs) you see that both young receivers are well on their way to developing into good players.
Again, this kind of development likely would not have happened had Anthony Gonzalez not gotten hurt.
In a recent Mike Chappell article for the Indy Star, we get an update on Gonzo, who is recovering from surgery earlier this month to help heal his injured knee. Gonzo aggravated the injury (which he initially sustained against the Jaguars) during his rehab process. Now, Gonzo is saying he feels "close" again:
"I felt like I was close the last time," Gonzalez said. "So in that sense, it's a little hard to say. I do feel the 'scope I had helped a lot. Now it's just a matter of getting a little flexibility back and all my strength back.
"But I think I'm close."
In yet another season where key components of the team have gone down with injury, such as the oft-injured Bob Sanders (done for the year), the addition of an important cog like Gonzo to an offense as impressive as the Colts could provide a serious jolt during the December push for playoff seeding.
However, we Colts fans have been through this injury roller-coaster before with another wide receiver, Marvin Harrison. The constant "Will he? Won't he?" for Harrison in 2007 drove me nuts from week to week after Harrison sustained a seemingly career-ending knee injury. With Gonzo, I have no wish to relive that torture. If he does come back, he offers another potent weapon to stretch the field for Peyton Manning.
But, it is important to point out the Garçon and Collie have played well enough (overall) to retain their roles. These two guys have grown up as players right before our eyes. It will be interesting to see how the Colts work with them once Gonzo gets back into the fold.