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Dallas Clark says Anthony Gonzalez is "100%"

Dallas Clark does a lot of charity and fundraiser work in the off-season because Dallas Clark is one of the true "good guys" in this league. I thought it important to mention this because football is always battling against the cheating antics of people like Brian Cushing or the sleaze ball stupidity of supposed "legends" like Lawrence Taylor.

That said, Dallas Clark was a yet another fundraiser recently and someone asked him about the health of Colts wideout Anthony Gonzalez. Manning4ever was kind enough to FanPost the interview here:

[Gonzalez is] a guy that's done a great job being productive. And when he's out there, he's done a lot of great things. It's just been unfortunate that he's had just a bad run with his knee. But, he was running today. I mean, he's 100%. He looked good. Felt good. And I think he's definitely really excited about getting back out there and playing and getting back out there on the field and making plays.

While Dallas Clark is by no means a doctor, this assessment brings optimism after Colts beat writer Mike Chappell gave us a different perspective on Gonzo's health:

Every indication is that Sanders and Gonzalez are on schedule with their rehabs. I'm not certain if each will be medically cleared for 100 percent participation in training camp, but I'm expected them to be ready for the start of the regular season.

It stands to reason that if a player is "100%," as Dallas said Gonzo is, then we should expect to see Gonzo in uniform and running the first day of mini-camp as well has training camp. If Gonzo is feeling good, then this brings a smile to my face and some optimism as to his recovery.

However, with stick and carcass readily available, I smack the dead horse. Regardless of his health, Gonzo is indeed the fourth WR on this team. Unless Pierre Garcon or Austin Collie look like utter dogmeat in OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp, they are the people who will start and play slot, respectively. If you don't believe me, then whatever. I'm sure Jamkel is reading this and already banging out his five paragraph reply. But before you throw stones at me, I did some "homework" and asked several people who cover the Colts for various news outlets (some local, some national) if my "Gonzo is the fourth WR" talk was crazy. Not surprisingly, virtually all said that Pierre Garcon was the starter, and that the only shot Gonzo had of getting back on the field consistently was with him supplanting Collie as the slot receiver.

Here is what a very prominent, very well-respected writer who has covered the Colts for years told me via email:

With Garcon being the prototypical guy size and speed wise, I can't imagine he won't be the starter. Logically, it would seem they would move Gonzo back inside to play the slot, but that's just me observing.

Obviously, until we see a depth chart, all of this is fun, off-season speculation. However, when just about every Colts writer is telling me that Gonzo is going to have a hard time finding PT because it is unlikely he will unseat Garcon, I tend to think of that as more than simple speculation. I know some of you here are very pro-Gonzo and anti-Garcon, but the reality is the Colts seem to want to invest more in Garcon because they feel he has more upside.

I also don't think Gonzo has a shot at replacing Collie. In Collie's first year as the Colts slot receiver, he did much better than Gonzo did his rookie season or his second season. Collie grabbed 77 passes for 917 yards and 9 TDs in 2009, including playoffs. Gonzo has never generated numbers like that. His best season was 2008 (61 catches, 761 yards, 4 TDs, including playoffs). So, unless Collie regresses, how does Gonzo win the slot job over him?

Do you now see why I keep saying "Gonzo is the #4?"

That said, having a hopefully healthy Gonzo on the team right now is a tremendous luxury, and I don't take seriously anyone shouting that Gonzo or Garcon or Collie should be traded. You don't trade quality WRs. Ask the Dolphins and Ravens how they feel about WRs. They traded a great deal to get two big play WRs this off-season, but after Anquan Boldin and Brandon Marshall, who else do they have? The Colts are five deep, counting Dallas Clark. I'll take that over just about any other WR corps in the league right now.