It all seemed to be coming together for Anthony Gonzalez. He was coming off of a brilliant career at THE Ohio State University and had just been selected in the first round by one of the foremost passing teams in the league.
From the beginning of his NFL career, he looked at home in the prolific passing attack of the Colts. With veteran star wideouts Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne to study under, there was almost no way for him to go wrong.
In his first season, he performed brilliantly considering the stars he had above him. He accumulated 37 catches for 576 yards and 3 TDs. In the postseason, "Gonzo" shined even brighter, grabbing 4 passes for 79 yards, highlighted by a 55 yard touchdown bomb.
Anthony regressed slightly in his second season. He caught more passes (57) and accumulated more yards (664) and touchdowns (4), but lost some of his explosiveness in yards per catch (dropping from 15.6 to 11.6). Nevertheless, he proved himself to be one of Peyton Manning's favorite third down targets and displayed more reliability than his previous season.
Before the 2009 season, the Colts displayed immense faith in not just their receiving corps, but specifically in Gonzo when they released their franchise leading receiver Marvin Harrison. Gonzalez was expected to step in and start opposite Wayne, just as Harrison had for so many years.
Only a few plays into the season however, Gonzalez went down with a noncontact ligament injury in his knee. He wouldn't play another down.
What happened later in that 2009 season defied all expectations. Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie both played at veteran levels and in the postseason, outdid even Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark (highlighted by their AFC championship performances, notably Garcon's record 11 catches).
Suddenly, Gonzo found himself at number 5 on the depth chart.
This season, I expect the competition to be a little different than typical wide receiver battles.
Gonzalez always played better on the outside and was a better big play receiver than any the Colts had before, but now Pierre Garcon has proven he can do that and more with his fantastic run-blocking skills. Austin Collie on the other hand is suited perfectly for the slot with his outstanding route running and deceptive deep speed. Gonzo can perform in both roles, but individually in either he isn't as good as Collie or Garcon.
What will become of Anthony Gonzalez? I see him most likely coming on 4 WR sets that have been rumored, unless he 1) Develops better run-blocking skills than Garcon or 2) Performs better than Collie in the slot.
The injury bug bites too often in today's NFL and for Anthony Gonzalez, he might never recover from this one.