Now that Dwayne Allen has been paid, the Indianapolis Colts tight end focuses on the single most important factor in providing a return on a four-year, $29.4 million investment.
He must stay healthy.
The 2012 third-round draft choice has always been confident in his abilities to be one of the NFL’s most effective tight ends. But a series of injuries, including the need for hip surgery in 2013, have sidelined Allen for 21 games the past three seasons. The only time he played in all 16 games was a rookie, when he caught a career-best 45 passes for 521 yards.
He caught eight of his 13 career TD passes in 2014. But the Colts have needed to use him more as a blocker, so his other numbers have been modest. More to the point, looking at last year, those numbers were anemic: 16 catches for 109 yards and one TD in 13 games.
Allen was relieved the Colts wanted him to stay and made such a lucrative offer. He also liked hearing that offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski would better utilize the tight end’s skill set to be more of a pass-catching threat and not just a blocker.
Now it’s on Allen to stay on the field.
He said during offseason training activities last month that a workout routine that focuses on enhancing flexibility hasn’t changed much.
“You can’t run or really over prepare for injuries,” he said. “They’re going to happen. They’re part of the game. You do do small things that you hope are preventative measures.
“Whenever I hurt my hip in 2013, no one was around (on the play). I jumped up and came down. It was just one of those things that happened.”
While the Colts re-signed Allen, they let tight end Coby Fleener walk in free agency. That means more snaps for backup Jack Doyle, but also increases the likelihood that Allen will be used more as a pass catcher. Allen has 91 catches for 1,045 yards in 43 NFL games.
Allen admitted the uncertainty of entering a contract year last season bothered him. Now that’s been removed, and with his contract comes the expectation for career numbers.
“I’ve always just naturally taken a role as a leader on this team,” he said. “I don’t think anything changes with the commitment they made to me. They definitely told me that they wanted me to be a part of this team. My role is my role and I’m going to continue to do my role and continue to lead by example and also be a vocal leader when the opportunity presents itself.
“That is the way I’m wired. I’ve always wanted the opportunity to be on the field like I was in 2012. That could be the key word to being ‘the guy.’ I just want to be out there because I know that whenever I’m out there, I can help the team.”
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