Colts cautious about Gonzalez injury

Updated: September 14, 2009, 9:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts expected Anthony Gonzalez to replace Marvin Harrison this season. Now they could be looking for a replacement to The Replacement.

One day after losing Gonzalez in a 14-12 victory over Jacksonville, team president Bill Polian said Gonzalez sprained ligaments in his right knee and the team is not sure how much time the third-year receiver could miss. Polian did not identify which ligaments were injured.

Clearly, though, the Colts are making backup plans and apparently they don't include Harrison.

"We will sit down with our pro personnel folks and talk through who the best veteran guy might be, who fits our system best," Polian said on his weekly Monday night radio show. "It's predicated, largely, on how long Gonzo is out. If he's gone for four weeks or more, then the likelihood is that we would make a change. If he's gone for four weeks or less, then probably not the sense of urgency to make a change."

A source confirmed an NFL.com report to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Sunday that Gonzalez will miss 2 to 6 weeks. Polian and coach Jim Caldwell said they wouldn't know more until meeting with the medical staff later Monday. Polian said it was not a season-ending injury.

Fans have been buzzing about the possibility of re-signing Harrison, the franchise's career receiving leader. He is available and though his numbers decreased following a 2007 knee injury, he knows three-time MVP Peyton Manning better than anyone, has intimate knowledge of the Colts offense and remains a favorite among fans and his ex-teammates.

A message was left by The Associated Press with Harrison's agent, Tom Condon. Harrison's 1,102 receptions rank second in league history -- behind only Jerry Rice.

But after Caldwell refused to rule out the possibility Monday afternoon, Polian did just that hours later.

"It really is counterproductive to try and bring a player in who's not had any training camp, not had any offseason [work]," Polian said. "So if we're going to add someone, it would be someone who's been in training camp and possibly is a little younger than Marvin."

The Colts had big expectations for Gonzalez, their 2007 first-round draft pick, after releasing Harrison in a cost-cutting move in February. Gonzalez's numbers last season were nearly identical to Harrison's.

But all those plans may have changed the moment Gonzalez stepped across the line of scrimmage late in the first quarter Sunday. As he ran left, Gonzalez crumbled to the ground without touching anyone and clutched his knee. He was carried off the field without putting any weight on the right leg.

"We know it is not season-ending," Polian said. "I will probably know more in a couple of hours, but the fact is it's not season-ending and that's a good sign."

Indy's problem at receiver is glaring because the Colts kept only four receivers on the active roster -- three-time Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne, second-year pro Pierre Garcon, rookie Austin Collie and Gonzalez.

Wayne has 586 career receptions. The other three have combined for 103 catches, 94 of those by Gonzalez.

Garcon caught four passes last season -- only one of those from Manning -- and Collie was a fourth-round draft pick in April. On Sunday, the two combined to catch to catch five passes for 39 yards.

What else could the Colts do?

They might activate Taj Smith, John Matthews or both from the practice squad. Smith spent most of last season on Indy's practice squad, knows the offense and played well in the preseason. He caught five passes for 59 yards and one touchdown and also made an impact on special teams.

"Hopefully, something will come about, but if not, I'll just keep working," Smith said. "If I get that chance, it will be the moment I've been waiting for."

Matthews was an undrafted rookie from San Diego who made seven catches for 85 yards in the preseason.

Indy also could revert to an old tactic, moving Clark into the slot. Clark has played there before, partly because of injuries. Or they could put second-year tight end Jacob Tamme, who some consider a virtual clone of Clark, in the slot.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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