FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Ask nearly anyone in the Colts locker room about rookie receiver Austin Collie, and theyll tell you about his work ethic.
And were not talking necessarily about running routes and catching passes. Collie, a fourth-round draft pick out of BYU, is one of those players whos at the practice facility first and leaves last, often to be found in the film room.
When it comes to studying, he might be second to only Peyton Manning.
He has the kind of personality where he is going to work on something until he gets it. He comes in early and stays late, said Colts coach Jim Caldwell, whose team will take on the New Orleans Saints in Super XLIV on Sunday in Miami.
(Collie) has sort of a real gym-rat mentality. There are not too many mornings that I come in here and walk through the hallway and I (dont) see the light flickering in the wide receivers room. Hes in there watching film before anybody else gets an opportunity to see it, except Peyton.
But Collie is doing all that studying not as much out of passion as out of necessity. By his own admission, it has taken him awhile to pick up the intricacies of the NFL. He even had to enlist wife Brooke to help him learn the Colts playbook.
I was having a hard time studying and memorizing the playbook, he said. My wife would help me by giving me a play and she would read a script from the previous day or the script that was about to be used. It would help me to learn the plays. I basically teach her what I was doing, and it helped a lot as far as retaining information. If I got the play wrong, she would make me do it again.
Of course, knowing the playbook only gets you so far. With as much as Manning changes plays, there has to be a quarterback-receiver rapport.
It was difficult at first and hard to feel comfortable out on the field. For quite some time, I wasnt playing to my natural ability, Collie said. I was worried about what I was doing, and I think all rookies go through that. Recently though, Ive started to feel more comfortable with what Im doing, and it has allowed me to play to my natural abilities.
After totaling 60 catches for 676 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season, Collie has 11 catches, 175 yards and two TDs in the postseason. All this after getting thrown into action faster than anticipated because Anthony Gonzalez injured his knee in the season opener.
I think (its) served him well being a more mature guy, Manning said of the 24-year-old Collie, who spent his Mormon mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2005 and 2006.
But Collie isnt satisfied with his development yet.
Its not as easy as everyone thinks, Collie said. Im still making mistakes, and there are still things I need to learn. I think it will be a couple of years before I get this offense down pat.