COLTS TE COBY FLEENER HAS IMPROVED AND IMPRESSED - Coby Fleener has finally showed up in the NFL.
The Colts’ big tight end is catching passes and stretching defenses. He’s helping Indy’s ground game and providing Andrew Luck with a consistent outlet receiver. He’s playing with confidence, becoming productive and emerging as the kind of playmaker the Colts envisioned when they selected him in the 2012 draft.
Part of the evolution is by design.
He played with Luck and for Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton at Stanford, and Fleener seems much more comfortable in his second NFL season than his first. The offense in Indy has changed, too. Hamilton has installed a tight-end friendly scheme that includes more power running and shorter, quicker passes, features that take better advantage of Fleener’s athleticism.
The other part is that Fleener has taken advantage of his opportunities.
When starting tight end Dwayne Allen went down with a season-ending hip injury in the season opener, Fleener knew he would have a bigger role in the offense, and he has responded.
On Sunday at Jacksonville, Luck threw seven passes to Fleener. He caught five, matching Reggie Wayne’s total, for 77 yards and a touchdown. Over the last three weeks, the 6-foot-6, 251-pound tight end has caught 11 of 15 balls thrown in his direction.
The biggest change has been confidence.
As a rookie, Fleener struggled to hold onto the football. His final numbers — 26 catches for 281 yards — were second among rookie tight ends behind Allen (45, 521). This year, in four games, Fleener already has 12 catches for 166 yards and has matched his touchdown total from last season (two).
He’s even stopped the questions about his hands, which were an issue last year and again when he endured a rough patch at training camp.
The Colts have won back-to-back road games, at San Francisco and Jacksonville, by a combined score of 64-10 and by topping 150 yards rushing in both. Indy is now averaging an impressive 4.9 yards per carry. Luck is completing 64.1 percent of his throws and has a quarterback rating of 91.9.
Fleener has had a part in all of it, but none of it is a surprise inside the organization.
The Colts always believed pairing Luck with Fleener would be a winning combination, even if it took a little time for them to get back on the same page. They knew Fleener would put the work in to do what he needed to improve, and eventually they would have a stud tight end.
Now they’re seeing the results. (Photo: Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports)
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