Tennessee at Colts
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday
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INDIANAPOLIS – Donnie Avery danced away from any direct confrontation with the past.
The question about whether this season with the Indianapolis Colts has been a career-saver was gently nudged aside.
“I've been given some opportunities and, for the most part, I've capitalized on them,” Avery said. “I had a couple drops last week, but at the end we got the win. I know what I can do. The team knows what I can do. I just want to be a part of it, and I have, and we've been very successful.”
That quote won't go into the archives of classic wide receiver “look-at-me” quotes. Avery plays it low-key, which fits well within the Colts' locker room.
But as Avery prepares to again play the team he spent time with last year – the Tennessee Titans – his play and his numbers are showing a receiver on the rise.
Avery has 49 catches for 675 yards (13.8 per reception) and three touchdowns. They are his best numbers since 53 catches for 674 yards and three scores) as a rookie with the St. Louis Rams in 2008. He caught 47 passes for 589 yards and five scores in 2009, but was injured in 2010 and 2011, playing a limited role with the Titans in 2011.
Titans quarterback Jake Locker was a teammate of Avery's at Tennessee last season, although Avery's three catches were all Matt Hasselbeck passes in the season finale.
“He's a dynamic player,” Locker said. “He's got rare vertical speed and he's able to really take the top off coverages. I think you see him make a lot of big plays for Indy this year.”
Avery shares the credit for his success this season with quarterback Andrew Luck.
While Luck has a strong connection with Reggie Wayne as his favorite target, Avery ranks second to Wayne in number of times he's been targeted by Luck.
Avery also ranks second to Wayne in catches and yardage.
“(Luck) is a great quarterback who sees the field,” Avery said. “Guys have to get open for him and make plays for him and we did Sunday.”
Avery ended up with the ball on the most memorable play of the Detroit game. He ran a crossing route while the other receivers went deep and Luck hit Avery just inside the 10-yard line. Avery took the pass and found the hole the defense into the end zone.
“It's a pleasure when your number's called because you want to help the team win,” Avery said. “That's what we're doing.”
Avery said the presence of Wayne helps to push Luck into spreading the passing game around.
“You see different coverages and different teams tend to double Reg,” Avery said. “As receivers, we have to get open and show No.12 his other options.”
Avery and T.Y. Hilton have emerged as competitors for that No.2 receivers slot, but Avery insists there's room for all receivers in the Luck target zone.
“We don't have any selfish players,” Avery said. “Everybody works for each other.”