ANDERSON, Ind. - At the outset of camp, tight end coach Alfredo Roberts said he wanted Coby Fleener to impose his will on the field, saying the second-year tight end "doesn't have to play mad. I want him to play up to his ability."
Through four practice days, Fleener has been providing a steady production level.
In an offense that is showing a flair for creative position groupings and alignments under new coordinator Pep Hamilton, Fleener is coming up big among the performers.
"He's probably having the most productive camp, including the time at Stanford, that I've seen," said Hamilton, who saw Fleener at Palo Alto. "The times I've been around Coby, he's a lot more explosive and confident right now. He's making plays that big-time NFL players tend to make."
Andrew Luck has thrown seven touchdowns in 7-of-7 and 11-on-11 drills in four sessions, two went to Fleener. On Tuesday, the Cardinal teammates collaborated on a long completion down the middle of the field.
It was what Colts fans saw from Fleener in the Chicago opener last year when he had six receptions and 82 yards in a career debut.
Fleener did not match that output again and was nagged by a shoulder injury that cost him four games. He totaled 26 receptions for the season, scoring two touchdowns.
A second season affords natural growth, and it yields the addition of Hamilton in place of Bruce Arians.
Being reunited with Hamilton means a familiar offense, one that fits Fleener like a glove.
"Any time you understand the offense, you feel more comfortable in being able to go out there and just run as fast as you can and do your job at full speed as opposed to second guessing," said Fleener. "I would say (this offense is) 98 percent different as far as terminology. We tried to try to bring some of the terms from last year into the offense that we ran at Stanford.
"There will be some carryover but for the most, part it's very different."
Fleener has 14 receptions from Luck so far in drills, ranking among the club leaders.
"If he can keep stacking practices like that on top of one another, then what we talked about in the offseason about him moving forward and having the type of season in year two building off the first year (can happen)," said Chuck Pagano. "He's a mismatch, he's a handful for these guys.
"He's going to do better in the run game. We expect more out of him in the run game and he knows that. We're going to ask him to do a little more heavy lifting in the run game, but certainly in the pass game, he's a mismatch."
The Colts will employ a more run-oriented attack under Hamilton, but he sees the same mismatch nightmare Fleener presents defenders.
"Absolutely. (He's) 6-6, 250 pounds, and he runs as fast as wide receivers," said Hamilton. "It's probably a good chance that he'll have an opportunity to run past a few safeties."
Drafted just after Fleener, Dwayne Allen sees a driven player.
"He's a guy who is hungry and way more physical," said Allen. "Coby understands his time was limited last year because of injury. He knows he has some doubters out there, but he also knows he can be one of the best tight ends in this league. He's going out there this year to prove that."
Fleener is thinking only in small increments as he seeks a big career.
"As cliché as it sounds, you have to take it one day at a time," said Fleener. "You can't let yesterday's good practice or bad leak into the next day. Every day is a fresh start. I'm hoping to do better each day.
"There's definitely a lot of learning going on in this offense. Thankfully, I've been in it, so I'm more familiar than most. We're still adding some new things every day and tweaking old things. It's constant change."
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