TE Robert Lane

When the decision by the football coaches was made to move Robert Lane from QB to TE, the concern was the 230-pounder being able to handle the blocking part of the position. OC Dan Werner and TE Coach Hugh Freeze say he's erased that concern. What does Lane think? Read about it inside.

Back in spring training, the question about junior Tight End Robert Lane was whether or not he could handle the blocking duties of the position well enough for the coaches to consider him an "every-down" TE.

After all, he was "just" 230 pounds - having worked to keep his weight down in order to play QB, and in his entire football career dating back to pre-junior high, he had never been asked to block anyone, much less 260-pound defensive ends or 300-pound defensive tackles.

Everyone knew Robert would be a threat in the passing game. His speed and hands and football intelligence for those chores were a given.

But could he help clear a path for Ole Miss running backs?

The question took a few months to answer but it's a resounding "yes" according to all involved.

"We didn't know for sure," said Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner. "When I first got here and was told Robert - who I knew of for a long time as a quarterback - was moving to tight end, that was the first thing that popped into my mind.

"These days, tight ends are typically 250-pound-plus guys. Some weight as much as 290-300 pounds. I can't lie - I had real concerns, but from spring until now, he has proven to me he can handle it."

Tight Ends Coach Hugh Freeze concurs.

"Robert has worked hard and developed into an every-down type of tight end. I wouldn't say blocking is the best thing he does, but he's more than competent and is not a guy we are going to pull out of the lineup in running situations," Freeze added to Werner's assessment.

Lane has obviously won the coaches over with his blocking proficiency, but how does he feel about his progress there?

"It's going good. I learn stuff every day about blocking," Lane, who gained 10-15 pounds over the offseason and picked up "a lot" of strength, said. "What I have learned is that every block is kind of unique. You never know what technique you are going to have to use or what technique the DE or DL is using.

"It's a challenge every snap."

Robert's name has always been synonymous with toughness. That mindset has paid off in his relatively new quest to be a good tight end.

"He has no problems taking on anyone on the field," continued Werner. "In the old days, coaches used to say 'he'd run through a brick wall if I asked him to.' Robert is that type of player. It doesn't get too tough for him."

Lane has incorporated that mentality into his mission of learning how to block.

"I know I's undersized as an every-down TE with my hand on the ground in a three-point stance lined up tight to the tackle, but I worked hard to get my weight and strength up, while keeping my speed, and I like the challenge of blocking bigger guys," Lane continued. "I'm a player who doesn't mind mixing it up with bigger guys. I think I can do it and I'm improving every day with my blocking.

"I'm glad the coaches feel that way now because I want to be an every-down tight end. I didn't make the switch to be a situational player. I want to be on the field as many plays as I can be."

Lane has been spurred on by Werner's philosophy of using the tight end more in the passing game than some OCs.

"You never know when he's going to call our number, but you know it's coming, so I want to gain his confidence of being able to block so I'll be out there when he does want to throw the ball to the tight ends," he added. "I think all the coaches know I can make plays in the passing game. It's good to have their confidence as a complete tight end, but I have to keep working it.

"The tight end is important in Coach Werner's system, but he told us up front that if we didn't produce that we would not be asinvolved inthe gameplan as we all want to be. So far, I think all of us (the tight ends) have proven to Coach Werner and Coach Freezr that we want to be a big part of the offense and that we deserve to be. It feels good to be a part of the gameplan."

In recent scrimmages, Robert - and the othe tight ends as well - have shown they can be trusted in the passing game.

Every day, they gain a little more trust with their blocking.

Robert Lane has things going in the direction he envisioned.

"I'm real happy right now, but it's up to me to keep plugging and learning more and more about blocking," he closed.

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