Coby Fleener couldn’t have been more wide open.
Fleener has had drop issues in the past, including a dropped touchdown pass at Jacksonville, but had been playing better of late. The injury loss of tight end Dwayne Allen has translated to more opportunities for Fleener.
The drop aside, Fleener had his first two-touchdown game in the Colts’ 49-27 win over the Redskins Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Hopefully I can learn from it,” he said of the drop. “That’s kind of all you can do.”
Fleener caught four passes for 127 yards. The Redskins failed to cover him on another mix-up and he scored from 30 yards out in the first quarter. His second score might have been his best in the NFL as he took a short pass, broke a tackle and showed excellent speed to turn it into a 73-yard touchdown, with the benefit of a last-second block from wide receiver Donte Moncrief.
That Fleener shrugged off the drop was about the only positive to be taken from such a humbling moment.
Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne said that’s all a pass catcher can do when the hands don’t respond as expected.
“Move on to the next play,” Wayne said, “that’s the hardest catch in football, when you are wide open.”
Luck didn’t hesitate to go back to Fleener after the drop on a second-quarter drive. He completed an 8-yard pass to his tight end on a third-and-3 conversion, then the two hooked up on a 16-yard pass the next play.
“I appreciate (Luck) and (offensive coordinator) Pep (Hamilton) for trusting me,” Fleener said.
The drive eventually resulted in a Luck 3-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton for a 21-3 lead.
Did Luck say anything to Fleener after the drop?
“No, no, I don’t,” the quarterback said. “Give him a slap on the head or what have you. But I know I’m in no position to yell at him or break him. He’s trying his butt off.”
Luck admired how Fleener responded.
“The second one was awesome, just to see him break a tackle and burn down the sideline,” the passer said of the 73-yard score. “That was sweet.
“Mistakes happen in a game, but we all realize that. I know I make a bunch of stupid mistakes. I hope the guys trust me to bounce back from them. I think that’s the feeling towards every player on the team. ‘Flee’ did a great job of bouncing back and making some big plays.”
Fleener admitted he typically doesn’t distinguish himself running after a catch.
“I would say that’s not a strength of mine,” he said. “It’s something I’d like to work on. Sometimes, you’re just kind of fortunate and things went my way.
“Honestly, if you guys watch a replay of the game, you will see Donte Moncrief run about the fastest you’ll ever see anybody ever run on a football field to get down there and make a touchdown-saving block. I expected to be hit and tackled right around the goal line. You’ll see me go like this (closes his arms around ball) expecting it. It never came because Donte did an awesome job.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.