Former Colt Collie draws a crowd

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Veteran receiver Austin Collie was among the most popular Patriots during Wednesday's media-access period. Every time he thought he was in the clear, another reporter approached him for a one-on-one interview.

He obliged each time, and soon enough, he was mobbed by the entire horde in town for the build-up to Saturday's AFC divisional-round playoff game against the visiting Indianapolis Colts.

Collie, of course, is a former Colt.

And the storyline of "player faces former team" is often a popular one.

"It's just another game," Collie insisted. "I can't afford to get caught up in all of that. I look forward to seeing some of my old teammates and chatting it up with them after the game. But when the ball is kicked off, it's football. It's another team we have to beat to continue to advance."

The 28-year-old Collie, who was with the Colts from 2009-12, sees similarities between the two franchises. It's why he has fond memories of his time in Indianapolis.

"Like this place, just a great group of guys that kind of share that same mentality of working hard and just want to win ballgames and will do whatever it takes," he said. "I think that's what makes most of the memories, not only from the players' standpoint but from the coaches' standpoint -- great staff, great guys, they really cared about their players."

Collie's story is well documented, how a string of concussions threatened his career. He also injured his knee in his final season with the Colts last year.

He spent 2013 training camp with the 49ers, who let him go at the end of the preseason. He had workouts with the Patriots, Titans, Chargers and Dolphins.

After signing with the Patriots Oct. 3, Collie is now in his third different stint with the team. He's been on and off the roster as the team manages its depth in other areas of the roster, with his greatest contributions coming in the Oct. 13 comeback win over the Saints when he made two clutch catches on the fourth-quarter, game-winning touchdown drive.

Collie's season snapshot looks like this:

Oct. 3-Nov. 5: Played in four games, totaling 75 offensive snaps, with 3 catches for 34 yards.

Dec. 5-Dec. 27: Played in three games, totaling 38 offensive snaps, with 3 catches for 29 yards.

Jan.2-present: With rookie Aaron Dobson sidelined with a foot injury, he's the projected No. 4 receiver.

How has he managed being on and off the roster?

"Just go with the flow, man," Collie answered. "I kind of knew going into this year that there were going to be bumps in the road, coming off a knee surgery and whatnot, and not having an opportunity to be in an offseason with the team or anything like that. Right now, I'm just continuing to try to get better and get back to where I was."