FOXBORO, Mass. — Finding a receiver who can learn the Patriots’ offense in just a week and a half is a near impossibility. But apparently New England just had to sign the most persistent player they could find.
Austin Collie‘s persistence goes beyond just coming back to the game after numerous injuries, most notably his concussions. Collie was in Tom Brady‘s ear constantly during the portion of practice open to the media this week. Collie was jogging to Brady’s left, asking questions at the line, while running and after warmups. And as the rest of the players were stretching, Collie was catching passes from Brady, and asking him even more questions.
“In stretch lines, just having him quiz me, giving me plays,” Collie said. “It’s one thing to hear it from your coach or another person, but it’s another to hear actually from the person who’s going to be calling. So I had to get used to that and I have to take every opportunity possible, so any free time we have, always asking questions.”
It paid off for Collie. He had to suddenly come into the game against the Saints in the fourth quarter after Danny Amendola got knocked out cold on a helmet-to-helmet catch. Collie didn’t contribute until the final drive, however.
Collie caught both passes targeted to him on the drive, pulling them in for 24 yards. Both were key receptions on New England’s game winning drive. Collie said Brady never says “Enough!” to his constant barrage of questions.
“No, but he probably wants to,” Collie said. “And so does my coach. I’m pretty persistent and they’re awesome. They’re very resourceful, very helpful, very patient.”
Collie’s near-immediate pickup of the offense could serve as a lesson for future receivers hoping to come to New England and learn Josh McDaniels‘ complex offense quickly. The lesson: be as annoying as possible.
“[Wide receivers coach Chad] O’Shea has been awesome as far as reviewing with me, spending time,” Collie said. “I know I can get annoying at times, but he puts up with it, so thanks to him I was able to go in prepared.”
Collie was active after signing less than two weeks ago, while Josh Boyce was a healthy scratch despite being in the offense since the spring. It helps, of course, that Collie has five years of NFL experience under his belt, while Boyce is just a rookie. Still, it speaks to how smart of a player Collie is that he can contribute so quickly to an offense known for players not contributing right away.
Unless Amendola’s injury was not as severe as it looked, it appears the Patriots may need Collie next week. With Collie, Amendola and Julian Edelman, the Patriots may just have a revolving door of slot receivers, who tend to get hurt often, but have Brady’s trust. It’s just that kind of season here in New England — plug and play.