INDIANAPOLIS –His "lead by example" ways have led him straight to the top of the depth chart – and to a brand new contract.
The Indianapolis Colts this offseason not only made it a priority to re-sign free-agent-to-be Jack Doyle, but made their plan at the position crystal clear when they traded former No. 1 tight end Dwayne Allen – whom they had just re-signed to a multi-year deal the year before – to the New England Patriots.
After putting in a career year in 2016, and then officially being brought back to his hometown team, Doyle said he's ready to take on the added responsibilities that naturally come with being the No. 1 guy at his position.
"Just trying to be more of a leader in the tight end room and on the offensive side of the ball is something I'm trying to do and get better at," Doyle said. "I've had to lead before. I didn't feel like it was necessarily with my role early in my career but definitely now. I'm trying to do more things to improve in that area and help the team."
Doyle will lead a group of tight ends that will certainly be an under-the-radar unit for the Colts in 2017. Beyond Doyle is Mo Alie-Cox, the converted former basketball player who played his first full NFL season last year, and then it's wide open for a few players – including another converted basketball player – to earn the final spot or two.
Let's take a look at the state of the tight end position for the Colts entering training camp:
NOTABLE RETURNERS:— Jack Doyle
— Erik SwoopeNOTABLE ADDITIONS:
— Mo Alie-Cox
— Brandon WilliamsNOTABLE CAMP BATTLES:
— Darrell Daniels
— Colin JeterNOTABLE LOSSES:
— Dwayne Allen (traded)
Last season, the Colts took three tight ends – Allen, Doyle and Swoope – with them from training camp and the preseason into their Week 1 game against the Detroit Lions.
This year, don't be surprised if the team goes with three tight ends again: Doyle, Swoope and Williams, a fifth-year veteran.
The Colts signed the free agent Williams on March 20, a year after he played a full 16 games for the first time in his career with the Seattle Seahawks. Williams has been mostly utilized as a blocker and as a special teams contributor in the first few years of his career, but don't be surprised to see him get a few passes thrown his way as he evolves in offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's system.
The wild card of the tight end group is Alie-Cox, who was a basketball standout in college at VCU. At 6 foot 7 and 250 pounds, Alie-Cox certainly has the size of an NFL tight end – he just hadn't played organized football prior to his freshman year in high school when he signed with the Colts in March.
"I mean, I'm confident in myself, so I think I could be a great player," Alie-Cox said earlier this offseason. "I've just got to go in there with an open mindset (and) be real coachable, because this is some stuff that I hadn't done in the past, and it's at a higher level with bigger, faster athletes. So I think I can be great; just got to go in there and be coachable, learn from the other guys, and just get down the playbook and learn all the concepts and stuff like that."
That leaves two rookies – Daniels and Jeter – jockeying for a final spot on the roster heading into the start of camp this weekend. Like many other positions, special teams play could be a huge factor in those decisions for the Colts.
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