Posted September 21, 2012 on AP on Fox
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By MICHAEL MAROT AP Sports Writer Donnie Avery spent the past two seasons waiting for a chance to prove himself. He's not sitting around any longer. The five-year veteran tied his career-high with nine receptions in Indianapolis' 23-20 victory, and for the first time in three years, he's starting to look like his old speedy self. ''I think he is back,'' offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said Thursday. ''His speed is back, his strength is back, his confidence is building.'' For Avery, it's been a long journey from No. 1-rated college receiver to his re-emergence as a bona fide NFL starter. His career got off to a promising start after St. Louis drafted him with the 33rd overall pick in the 2008 draft - the first receiver chosen that year. In his first two seasons, Avery caught 100 passes for 1,263 yards and seemed destined to become a key piece in the Rams' rebuilding project. All that changed late in the first half of a 2010 preseason game against New England. When rookie Sam Bradford threw a pass down the right sideline, Avery tried to make a jumping catch. Instead, he fell to the ground clutching his right knee. A few minutes later, he was taken off the field on a golf cart. The next day, the Rams confirmed their worst fear: Avery had torn the anterior cruciate ligament and would miss the rest of his season. The former University of Houston star spent months rehabbing the knee, and then early in 2011, Avery, like other injured NFL players, had to fend for himself when the lockout hit. League rules barred him from working out at the team complex, mini-camps were canceled and he couldn't even get advice from the Rams' doctors. ''The lockout really hurt me because I didn't have any one-on-one with the trainer, so it took longer to recover,'' he said. ''Some days when you get frustrated, you have a trainer there to tell you right where you are and right where you need to be. I didn't.'' Avery didn't realize how far behind he was until training camp opened, and by then, it was too late. He was cut just before the 2011 season began. Four weeks later, Tennessee gave him a second chance, signing him as a free agent after losing Kenny Britt to a season-ending knee injury. But Avery, learning a new offense, was still struggling. In eight games with the Titans, he caught only three passes for 45 yards and one touchdown, and never started a game before entering free agency. Fortunately for Avery, the Colts needed veteran receivers and were willing to take a chance on him. ''Since he's gotten here, he's been 100 mph. He's completely healed,'' coach Chuck Pagano said. ''I've been around guys, coached guys that have come off of major knee surgeries. In Baltimore, I had a couple corners go down. It takes time; it takes more than a year. You may be back in a year but from a mental standpoint, confidence, running routes, driving, breaking, from a defensive back's perspective or a wide out's perspective. He's 100 percent.'' Avery looked good in training camp, until a bruised thigh kept him off the field for more than a week. Since returning, though, Avery has looked more like the guy that had St. Louis raving after his first two years than the receiver still trying to get healthy over the last two years. It's certainly made a difference. At Chicago, Avery caught three passes for 37 yards and followed that up with his first 100-yard game since his rookie season. He did that with a 20-yard catch to start the Colts' game-winning drive. Through two weeks, he's caught 12 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown, enough to earn the trust of his new quarterback, Andrew Luck. ''He's very dynamic, fast, quick-twitch, can really stretch the field and get across the field fast on some crossing routes,'' Luck said. ''I'm glad to see that it's showing up in the games because he's been doing it in practice.'' For Avery, the start of the 2012 season couldn't have gone any better. He's catching passes, making big plays and showing the league that he's back to his old ways. ''I'm just capitalizing on the opportunity,'' he said. ''Every year is different. All I can tell you is that I feel like the Donnie of 2012.''

Collie a game time call

Austin Collie feels great but will be a game-time decision according to Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star: Collie was cleared to practice last week and on Monday did so but when concussion-related symptoms returned at mid-week, he was shut down again until this week, when he was a full practice participant Wednesday through today. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Collie will...

Pat McAfee: Lethal Weapon

Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star writes that Colts punter Pat McAfee is a man on a mission: “I wanted to figure this out and try to become the best who ever did it. I think I’ll be trying to do that for the rest of my career,” he said, snapping off the words now with the solemnity of a vow: “to be the best to ever do it.” Provided he doesn't lead the team in...

All-22 Analysis - Evaluating the Colts Defense

After watching the Colts crumble to an appalling defeat a week earlier, the performance on Sunday against the Vikings was uplifting. Hope flickers where negativity and pessimism once stood, and that can only be a good thing. While there were positives to take from both sides of the ball, I'm going to focus primarily this year on our defense, leaving offensive questions to those...

Colts Authority Radio: Thursday Night Match-up Show 9-20-2012

Join Colts Authority Radio tonight, Live, at 10pm ET, as we bring you the latest signing and injury news, and get you set for the Colts-Jaguars Week 3 match-up! Listen to internet radio with Colts Authority Radio on Blog Talk Radio Or follow along on your mobile device with Stitcher: The number to call in is (619) 996-1632 Notes on how to call in with...

Colts Authority Radio: Inside the Writer's Block 09/19/12 OT

Join Kyle Rodriguez and Scott Kacsmar as they discuss Week Two in the NFL, Andrew Luck's first comeback, and Peyton Manning's backtrack against the Falcons. Listen to internet radio with Colts Authority Radio on Blog Talk Radio Or follow along on your mobile device with Stitcher: The number to call in is (619) 996-1632 Notes on how to call in with...

Juan Eye On Donnie Avery

I do the Insanity workout Juan… Donnie Avery was on the scrap heap of NFL WRs and fantasy WRs not that long ago. Through 2 weeks he has been a favorite target of rookie QB Andrew Luck. He now has 12/148/1 in the first two weeks and has the look of a legit WR3 for fantasy. My issue with Avery is his propensity to get injured and be an inconsistent fantasy player. I’m interested...

Fantasy football week three two point conversion

Every year in the NFL one or two so-called journeymen seem to find their way into the spotlight. A couple of years ago it was Brandon Lloyd. Last year Laurent Robinson had the honor. These are the kinds of guys that have struggled through some sort of adversity, whether it be an injury or just not living up to expectations. This week we will look at two such players that can help...

Colts fan's dying wish: tickets to game

A terminally ill Indianapolis Colts fan will get a final wish Sunday when he attends the team's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seventy-four-year-old Danny Webber is battling prostate cancer that has spread to his lungs and spleen. He will attend the game through a program started by Heritage House, the Greensburg, Ind., senior community where he lives. Activity director...

Hype and Expectations for young Colts team entering key week 3 match-up

2012 has been quite the roller coaster of hype and expectations for the Indianapolis Colts. Following an off-season that saw a great number of their most prominent veteran players released and a free agency period in which the Colts remained relatively quiet, many analysts had pegged the Colts as one of the worst teams in the league, and a strong candidate to draft #1 overall in...

Colts Look to Keep Momentum Rolling Against the Jaguars

The Indianapolis Colts have started the season 1-1 against the NFC North, but they will now start playing the meaningful division games, and that starts this weekend with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert looked good against the Vikings in week one, but took a huge step backwards in week two against the Texans top ranked defense.  This is only his second season, but he has...

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts: 3 Bold Predictions

Unless the hat you’re wearing has a horseshoe on it, or your favorite colors are teal and black, I can count only two other reasons you might tune in to the Colts and Jaguars game Sunday afternoon.  One: to find out if Andrew Luck is really that good. Two: to find out if Jacksonville is really that bad.Spoiler alert: the answers are “Yes” and “Yes”.Did I ruin it for you...

AP Pro 32 Power Rankings

The Vikings moved back a spot, to 27th, with a road loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2. See where the teams ranked and what the voting panel had to say about the Vikings.
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.