Colts not sure WR Collie will play against Bengals

The Colts expect receiver Austin Collie to be just fine,

eventually.

Their playoff hopes may hinge on it.

One day after Collie lay motionless on the field for nearly 10

minutes, coach Jim Caldwell said Monday that the second-year

receiver returned to Indianapolis on the team flight and was

recovering from a concussion.

”Obviously the doctors felt good enough about his situation to

allow him to travel back with us on the airplane,” Caldwell said.

”I think that’s a pretty good indication that things were trending

in the right direction. He came back, he was home sleeping, our

medical staff had an opportunity to talk with him this morning and

his symptoms are subsiding. He’s trending in the right direction,

which is great.”

Fortunately, Collie appears to have escaped a more serious

injury after Sunday’s frightening scene in Philadelphia.

After Collie got his hands on a long pass from Peyton Manning,

he turned to run down the field and was sandwiched between

defenders Quintin Mikell and Kurt Coleman.

Coleman dropped his shoulder and had a helmet-to-helmet hit

collision with Collie, who crumpled to the turf with his two arms

frozen in the air.

He was strapped to a backboard and taken off the field on a

stretcher.

”You definitely want to pray in that situation so that it’s not

bad as it looks,” defensive captain Gary Brackett said. ”And for

that moment, it really puts things in perspective.”

At halftime, the Colts said Collie was awake and alert.

And after the game, Collie could be seen walking around the

locker room though he did not take reporters’ questions.

Teammates were relieved with what they saw and heard.

”Austin is one of my best friends on this team and it’s tough

to watch. It’s tough,” tight end Jacob Tamme said. ”We just tried

to focus on football, but it’s definitely tough. It was good to get

to talk to him (on the plane), and he’s going to be good – we

hope.”

But the latest injury is yet another blow for the defending AFC

champs.

Twelve players have already gone on injured reserve, and that

list doesn’t even include oft-injured safety Bob Sanders, who tore

the biceps muscle in his right arm in the season opener and hasn’t

played since. Colts President Bill Polian said last week he hoped

Sanders would return next month.

And the injury rash just seems to be getting worse.

At one point Sunday, all three of Indy’s opening-day linebackers

were on the sideline – Gary Brackett, Philip Wheeler and Clint

Session.

The usually high-powered offense hasn’t been immune, either.

Manning has already lost All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark (wrist)

for the season and has played the last two games without Joseph

Addai (left shoulder). The four-man receiving corps that was

expected to the deepest and most talented of the Manning era, has

played together once all season, and even Polian said Saturday that

while the team mantra is next man up, he’s not even sure who the

next man is.

Yet somehow, the Colts are 5-3 and are tied for the AFC South

lead.

”I don’t think we’ve really changed anything about this

offense,” Tamme said. ”That’s really the neat thing about this

team, we understand what we’re supposed to do and just go out there

and go to work.”

How long can the Colts keep winning this way? Who knows?

The Colts gave their players an unscheduled day off Monday,

presumably to let them get an extra day to heal.

They need it.

Addai, third-string running back Mike Hart (ankle) and Session

didn’t even make the trip to Philly. Brackett and Wheeler both left

the game briefly in the second half, and, now Collie, who just

returned from thumb surgery, will be back on the injury report.

New NFL rules on concussions will require Collie to take a

baseline neurological test and have his answers compared with the

ones he gave before the season. He also has to be cleared by team

doctors and an independent neurological specialist before he can

get back in pads.

”They can make a determination of where he is,” Caldwell said.

”He’ll be released to play whenever he is cleared.”

But at least, he appears to be OK and the Colts hope he’ll back

soon.

”I think it was great even to be able to relay the news that,

‘Hey, he is fine. He’s alert,’ even prior to the game being

finished,” Caldwell said. ”That certainly lifted a lot of

spirits, in that regard.

”He is a guy that can come back and do his job,” Caldwell

added. ”We fully anticipate that he will have the same fervor and

fire in terms of his preparation in terms of trying to overcome

this setback.”