INDIANAPOLIS – During many recent seasons, Indianapolis gained a great deal of offensive traction with the use of tight ends.
There is no time like the present to hopefully re-create the past, and the signing of Dwayne Allen is a step in that direction.
Allen, the club's third-round selection in last April's draft, will be among Colts players reporting to training camp at Anderson University on Saturday, July 28. Practices start on July 29.
"It's a great feeling to get this out of the way and behind me," said Allen. "Now I get to focus on football because that's what I love to do. The Colts did a great job as well as SportsTrust who represents me in getting this thing done as quickly as possible so I can get to training camp in time."
Allen, 6-3, 255, was the 64th overall selection in the draft. He was taken 30 choices after Indianapolis tabbed Stanford tight end Coby Fleener in the second round. Fleener (34th overall) was the highest tight end taken by Indianapolis since the 2003 drafting of Dallas Clark with the 24th selection.
Allen and Fleener will be components in an Indianapolis offense that should be quarterbacked by Andrew Luck, the first choice in the draft. Under Head Coach Chuck Pagano and Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians, Indianapolis is capable of employing multiple tight ends in its offensive arsenal. The concept was used by the club with past talents such as Clark, Ken Dilger and Marcus Pollard.
Allen was a productive player at Clemson, achieving a program milestone in only three seasons on the field. He hauled in 93 passes to tie the school reception record by a tight end. Allen was able to do so while starting 33 of 41 contests, including 27 over his last two seasons.
Allen bypassed his final season of eligibility, but he exited his career with some significant hardware. In 2011, Allen became the 11th recipient of the John Mackey Award which recognizes the nation's most outstanding tight end. He had 50 receptions for 598 yards and eight touchdowns last year, the third straight season he increased his reception and yardage totals.
Allen joined a list of prominent Mackey Award winners. D.J. Williams of Arkansas won the award in 2010, and successful predecessors who gained the honor and have gone on to NFL success include Aaron Hernandez, Fred Davis, Marcedes Lewis, Heath Miller, Kellen Winslow and Daniel Graham.
Clark is another past winner of the award. He won the honor in 2002 after his senior season at Iowa, the third year the award was given. Clark (427-4,887, 46 TDs) set the club positional records in receptions and touchdowns, while his yards ranked second to Mackey's Colts record (5,126) for tight ends. Mackey joined the Colts in 1963 as a second-round pick and played with the club through 1971. He had 320 receptions with the Colts for 38 scores. Mackey passed away on July 6, 2011.
"We got two really good football players (Allen and Fleener) that are going to help us tremendously in a spot where we lost some players in an important position for us moving forward with this offense," said General Manager Ryan Grigson last April. "We feel like with Andrew (Luck) and the type of talent that was available for him to utilize, along with Bruce Arians and his great expertise at the tight end position and using multiple tight ends and the success he's had, to me the chance to get two tight ends like this in a single draft for what we do…it really lined up well for us."
Tight Ends Coach Alfredo Roberts likes the additions of Allen and Fleener from a talent, ethic and personality standpoint. Their presence will help the offense achieve an identity in 2012.
"They are going to be in the backfield blocking, on the line of scrimmage blocking or split out running routes. It's not a sense of who the blocker is or who the receiver is," said Roberts. "They've both had success at both roles. These guys want to be thought of as football players, tight ends that want to do both when asked to do both."
Allen will do what is asked, and he aims to be a constant asset to the attack.
"(I am) a complete tight end, a guy who can not only help out in the run game, but stretch the field on a consistent basis," said Allen. "(I'm) a guy who's been proven to move the chains on third-and-short, third-and-long and a guy who's just a leader, a tight end who is a great leader and going forward with such a young team. Hopefully I can get in, work my tail off and become one of those leaders."
Allen was on the field for 890 snaps in 2011 at Clemson, never failing to have fewer than 44 scrimmage plays in a game. He had 765 snaps in 2010, and he was on the field for at least 50 snaps in 21 of his last 27 starts. Allen set school positional marks in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2011. He was used in different roles, lining up wide, in the slot, in the backfield and in a "sniffer" position behind the tackle. The aim was to make Allen one of the more versatile players on the college level.
Allen had multiple receptions in 12 of 14 outings in 2011. In Mackey-type fashion, he had a 54-yard scoring reception against Troy, and he had two scoring receptions in the ACC Championship game against Virginia Tech. Allen had receptions in 26 of 27 outings during his last two seasons, and he had 21 knockdown blocks as a junior.
"In this offense, if you watch Bruce (Arians) operate over in Pittsburgh, you can never have enough tight ends," said Pagano. "We feel like we got two great ones."
Indianapolis will be training at Anderson University for a third consecutive year. The team will conduct 26 practices at Anderson, and the first preseason game is August 12 versus St. Louis in Lucas Oil Stadium.