Colts TE Coby Fleener and OL Mike McGlynn continue to impress, improve

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Two guys who looked like dog do-do in preseason have really started to play well in recent weeks.

Colts second-year tight end Coby Fleener was the butt of several jokes in August. After looking improved in training camp, the former Stanford standout looked uncomfortable and turnover-prone in Indy's four preseason games. The always-bitter label of "soft" was beginning to get tossed around in reference to Fleener.

"Bust" was another one.

However, since a hip injury ended Dwayne Allen's season, Coby Fleener has stepped up and has started to develop into the kind of player the Colts and general manager Ryan Grigson thought he could be when they drafted him No. 34 overall in 2012.

In three games, Fleener has 11 catches for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Another player many observers labeled as useless was offensive lineman Mike McGlynn. Signed as a free agent in 2012, McGlynn has been about as bad a starting interior guard as one can get at the NFL level. I could link to Pro Football Focus' weekly rankings for McGlynn as a guard, but seeing the stats could make your face melt.

However, when an elbow injury to Samson Satele sidelined him for both the 49ers and Jaguars games, it was McGlynn - and not rookie Khaled Holmes - who stepped in and started at center. The results have been impressive. McGlynn has looked good hiking the football to Andrew Luck. In the first two games of 2013, Luck was sacked 7 times. In the two games McGlynn has started at center, he's been sacked just 3 times and had more time in the pocket to scan the field.

In addition, the Colts running game has begun to impose their will on opponents. The 49ers game is a great example. If you can, go and watch running back Trent Richardson's goal line touchdown in the first quarter of that game. You'll see McGlynn destroying the interior of SF's defensive front on that play.

As is sometimes the case, injuries to established players can provide opportunity to others on the depth chart. It's clear up to now that Coby Fleener and Mike McGlynn have made the most of their opportunities. Going forward, it now makes more sense to keep Satele on the sidelines and not change McGlynn's status as the starting center.

Yes, players can lose their job because of injury, and in Satele's case the only reason he remained the starter was because Ryan Grigson stupidly sent A.Q. Shipley to Baltimore this offseason. Just like McGlynn this season, Shipley outplayed Satele when he started at center last year.

Basically, anyone but Satele should be played center at this point, with McGlynn being the optimal choice. He's earned it.

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