To say Donnie Avery's career was given up for dead in Tennessee last season is like saying the Donner Party had a slight food shortage and had to resort to alternative meal planning.
After a promising 2009 season, which saw him catch 47 balls for 589 yards and 5 touchdowns in 16 games played, Avery was let go by the Rams, who had drafted the 5'11, 200 lbs speedster with the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. Avery sat out the entire 2010 season, but found his way to the wide receiver-starved Titans in 2011. However, he only managed to play in 8 games (none as a starter), catching only 3 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.
The Titans let him go after the season, and the "bust" label was starting to stick to his football resume.
The issue with Avery was never his production. He had 103 receptions for 1,308 yards and 9 TDs in two seasons with the Rams before he was jettisoned. No, Avery's issues were injury-related. He simply could not stay healthy, and the hard truth in the NFL is that injured players are useless players.
In fact, five months after the Colts signed Avery as a free agent, his status to remain on the team was very much in doubt. Just as he'd done in St. Louis and Tennessee, Avery got hurt with Indianapolis. He dealt with a thigh injury throughout much of training camp and the preseason. Back when the Colts were prepping to play the Washington Redskins in their third preseason game, we noted (along with George Bremer) that the Washington game would be critical for Avery. Play well, and he likely had a job for 2012. Play badly, or get hurt again, and his football career was likely over.
He caught 6 passes for 38 yards against the Redskins. More importantly, he didn't get hurt.
The Colts retained Avery on the 53-man roster, and since then he's been one of Andrew Luck's more reliable receivers, hauling in 49 catches for 675 yards and 3 scores, including Sunday's dramatic game-winning catch and run with no time left to defeat the Detroit Lions.
Bob Kravitz thinks that play was a signature moment for Andrew Luck, and he's right. However, I think it was a bigger moment for Avery. That score now puts him in the annals of Colts history. He's now a trivia question: Who was the Colts WR that caught the game-winning touchdown pass on 4th down with no time left to beat the Lions in 2012?
Answer: Donnie Avery.
"Bust" wide receiver who many draftniks used as the poster boy for "don't select small wideouts early." Avery is well on his way to a career season, and it seems much deserved. The fifth-year veteran worked his butt off this offseason, including work with Andrew Luck down in Miami.
It's moves like signing Avery, and seeing him succeed, that that make me enjoy covering this team. Keep in mind, Avery had 5 catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns v. the Lions. He did this just two weeks removed from a concussion, which he sustained against the Patriots in Week 11.