It has been the case with many of the Professional Cougar stories this fall that injury opens the door of opportunity for Cougar alumni. As unfortunate as injuries are to players who have dedicated themselves to the game, just as exciting is the chance for a former Cougar to "Rise Up" and try to make an impact.
This was the case with Austin Collie last Sunday when Danny Amendola was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter. The situation for the Patriots was looking quite dismal as Tom Brady threw an interception late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed the fate of the Patriots. The Patriots got the ball back though and Tom Brady engineered an incredible 70 yard drive in the final minutes of the game.
It wasn’t until this last drive that Austin Collie was able to show his prowess for caching passes to the New England fan base. Collie made catches of 15 and 9 yards, the latter coming on a fourth down play that would have stalled the Patriots final push for pay dirt. Seconds later Tom Brady connected with Kenbrell Thompkins for the knockout punch.
The Patriots are currently playing without their top five receivers from last year’s explosive team. Rob Gronkowski is set to return in the coming weeks, but guys like Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez won’t be coming back anytime soon. Danny Amendola will return from his injury in Sunday’s game, but Collie certainly proved himself capable in the Patriots win.
Leading up to the game Austin Collie did all that he could to digest the new playbook. Having only been with the team for a few weeks, Collie has been studying the playbook and picking quarterback Tom Brady’s mind at every opportunity. While other players are stretching and warming up for practice, Collie has either been in Brady’s ear asking questions or running routes. It certainly speaks to the faith in Brady to throw to Collie in such a crucial point of the game.
After the game Collie was dripping with sweat and appreciation for those who have supported him in his journey back to the NFL after injury has sidelined him for much of the past few years. His tweets after the game were a testament to all that Collie has gone through and how excited he is to back playing in the NFL.
By the number of responses it’s clear that the fan bases from the Cougars and Patriots share the same sentiment. There is still a lot to prove in the coming weeks, but Collie will continue to improve. It doesn’t hurt to have Tom Brady throwing passes to you and this situation couldn’t be much better for Collie. Hopefully Austin can continue to perform on the field and carve out a permanent spot on the Patriots roster.