Dwayne Allen knew what his body needed this offseason.
That’s why the Indianapolis Colts tight end asked for and received permission to work out with an EXOS personal trainer in Arizona for two months.
It meant missing one month of offseason training activities, but Allen is convinced he’s better prepared to stay healthy in his fourth NFL season, which is a contract year for the former third-round draft choice.
While Allen played 13 games last season, his overall numbers didn’t match those of his rookie season, when he caught 45 passes for 521 yards and three TDs in 16 games. A hip injury that required surgery shut him down after one game in 2013. Because that offseason was spent in rehabilitation, his body started breaking down with ankle and knee issues last season, when he caught 29 passes for 395 yards. He was still an end-zone threat with eight touchdowns.
“I went out there to get healthy, more than anything else,” Allen said. “They have a great physical therapist program out there. The lifts were all structured to my physical therapy. The biggest thing from going out to Arizona, I feel whole. I feel whole. My body feels one. I’m running around out there and I’m feeling great and hopefully it equates to less trips to the training room.”
Allen, 25, said his hip injury and rehab got him back on the field, but he wasn’t firing off the ball like he can now, after training five days a week and targeting specific areas. He said he was at about 70 percent for much of last season.
Now his body feels as good as it has “in a long time.” Allen was grateful Colts head coach Chuck Pagano consented to the workouts. The tight end didn’t have to ask for permission because OTAs are voluntary, but he understood coach prefers players to participate so the team isn’t meshing together for the first time at August training camp.
Allen realizes the importance of proving he can stay on the field and produce consistently. His NFL future relies on that. He wants to stay with the Colts after this contract season.
“Very, very eager,” he said, “but whatever the team calls me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m here, I’m under contract, hopefully for a long time after this year, but I’m going to go out and do whatever the team asks me to do and to the best of my ability.”
“Everyone, everyone, yeah, even coach Pagano and (wide receiver) T.Y. Hilton, there’s a lot of us,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t even worry about that. Is it in the back of your head sometimes? Yeah, but when you focus on the team and what’s best for the organization, and if you really have your goals and priorities in order, then winning a championship and having a (Super Bowl 50) party in Santa Clara (Calif.) stumps right now your contract.”
But the reality for the future will always be there.
“Year four, contract year,” Allen said. “It’s really put up or shut up.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.