Colts WR Collie uncertain how long he'll be out after surgery

INDIANAPOLIS -- Austin Collie's injured right thumb could keep him off the field for a few more weeks.

It didn't prevent the Colts wide receiver from signing autographs Tuesday night -- left-handed -- at an Indianapolis restaurant.

Just before the scheduled hour-long autograph session began, Collie told reporters that even he didn't know how much time he'd miss.

"It's good," Collie said when asked about his right hand. "You know the operation went well, and we're just taking it day to day."

But in Indianapolis, the biggest guessing game is, when will the NFL's No. 4 receiver be back?

The Colts, as usual, haven't established a timetable for Collie's return, and the receiver didn't provide much more information Tuesday.

Part of the reason for the uncertainty is Collie's medical history.

Some Colts players, such as defensive end Dwight Freeney and tight end Dallas Clark, have been quick healers, but Collie was never seriously hurt in college or his rookie season in the NFL. The last significant injury he remembers: Hurting his elbow as a 14-year-old.

"It's just something you can't put a timetable on because it has to do with how my body handles it," Collie said.

Losing Collie is yet another big blow to the defending AFC champions.

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Seven defensive backs already have gone on season-ending injured reserve, including safety Melvin Bullitt, the replacement for the injured Bob Sanders. That list doesn't include Sanders, the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, who tore his right biceps during the first quarter of the season opener. He's expected to be out until at least December.

Kick returner Devin Moore also is on injured reserve, and quarterback Peyton Manning's supporting cast is being banged up.

Former first-round draft pick Anthony Gonzalez, another wide receiver, has missed five games because of a sprained right ankle. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon missed two games earlier this season with a hamstring injury. Clark, Collie and running back Joseph Addai were added to the list after Indy's Oct. 17 game at Washington.

Clark, a Pro Bowler, went on season-ending injured reserve Monday after he underwent wrist surgery, and Addai remains a question mark for Monday night's game against his hometown Houston Texans because of a nerve injury in his left shoulder.

The loss of Collie could leave the Colts even thinner at receiver if Gonzalez doesn't play against Houston, as he said Monday he expects to do.

It's been a breakout year for Collie. He has 44 receptions, 503 yards and six touchdowns in six games, putting him within striking distance of his 16-game totals from 2009: 60 catches, 676 yards and seven TDs.

All that was put on hold when Collie's thumb got caught between two helmets while he made a first-half block during an Oct. 17 victory over the Washington Redskins. Team trainers taped up the hand, and Collie managed to finish the game.

Afterward, Collie said he realized the injury was more severe than a jammed finger, and doctors later advised him to have surgery during the Colts' bye week.

Now it's a waiting game to see when he'll return.

"The surgery has taken place, and we've just got to let the healing process begin," Collie said.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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