After four weeks of football, the receiver with the third most yards (398), and second most catches (32) and leading the league in touchdowns (5) isn't Andre Johnson, Chad Johnson, or Randy Moss. It's Colts second year receiver Austin Collie.
Collie, as you all know, plays mostly in the 'slot' position when the Colts use their three-WR set on offense. However, since a hamstring injury in Week Two has sidelined Pierre Garçon, Collie has moved from the slot position out to flanker. Since that move, he's caught 17 passes for 210 yards and 3 TDs.
This Sunday, against the Kansas City Chiefs, Pierre Garçon is expected to return to the Colts. But, in what capacity? And what about Austin Collie?
Phil Wilson at the Indianapolis Star Tweeted about this dilemma earlier this week:
If WR Pierre Garcon returns this week, the question is this: Do the #Colts start him outside and move Austin Collie back to the slot?
As the week progressed, and more news began surfacing that Collie has a foot injury and is wearing a protective boot after practice, Phil started thinking Austin was going to sit out:
#Colts WR Austin Collie is still hobbling around with a boot on his right foot. Starting to think he sits and Pierre Garcon starts Sunday.
Educated guess on #Colts WR Austin Collie: Why have him practice at all Friday if he was going to sit out?
Guessing he'll split time in slot with Blair White, depending on how foot feels. Collie knows if he's out there, no excuses.
It seems reasonable to assume that the Colts will start Garçon, moving Collie back to slot. If Collie is severely hobbled by his foot injury, look for Blair White to step in and play slot, or for Reggie Wayne to move back to his old position and make plays over the middle and up the seam.
Interestingly, Collie's injury seems pretty fortuitous for Garçon. Pierre has not started well, and if Anthony Gonzalez had not gotten hurt in Week One, Pierre might not be coming back as a starter this week. Gonzo lost his starting job to Pierre because of injury this offseason. It's reasonable to assume Pierre could lose his for the same reason. If Collie had not injured his foot last week, what justification would the Colts have for 'sitting him' when Pierre returns? Collie has outplayed Pierre, and just about every other wide receiver in this league.
In order to stabilize the WR position a bit, it's important that Garçon start hot against the Chiefs. He needs a good game. Look for Peyton Manning to target him early and often. Key for Pierre is, you know, catching what Peyton targets him with.