INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Manning is in his first year as the tight ends coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He recently talked to reporters about the state of his position group as it continues through offseason workouts and heads towards the 2018 season:
On his connection to offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, and how he landed with the Colts:
"… I played left tackle (at the University of Mount Union), and Nick played receiver. And then when I was finishing school, Nick was actually like a student coach/a young intern there. And, you know, we had a relationship, and when he got into college, he ended up getting going and then getting into professional (football), and I kind of stayed in college football, and we had always stayed close, and at least in tabs with each other professionally. And he kind of contacted me about an opportunity that was going to arise, and then we kind of went through the process and then decided to make the move."
On his first impression watching the Colts' tight ends from last year, and how much it helps to have a guy like Jack Doyle:
"Well, I think that's the thing — I think at first, when you first walk into it, before anything else you obviously notice the talent of Jack. But I think that you notice the consistency that he played with. So I think that's the thing that probably stuck out the most. And then, you know, obviously then you get excited about there's a variety of guys making contributions to the room, which is usually a good sign. And then obviously we brought in (Eric) Ebron as well, so I had an opportunity to watch him."
On how he wants to utilize Ebron, and if he can be used almost more like a receiver:
"Yeah, I think that's the thing that gives us some excitement, is that in our mind Eric's a guy that has the ability to make plays in this offense. And Frank (Reich) and Nick, their vision for the offense is to be expansive and to put guys in multiple positions, and hopefully Eric proves that he can be a guy that can do that for us."
On the fact the tight ends are expected to be heavily involved in the offense, and the opportunity to help mold the players at the position:
"Well I think for the young guys, there's some great people to look up to. I think they have some guys to watch, and the way that Jack prepares daily and the way that some of these guys carry themselves — and really the way that (Doyle) leads the group, I feel like, for them, it's fun to watch their growth and development, and obviously we feel like there's some really good, young talent there, and matched with some guys who have played a lot of football here, as well."
On Erik Swoope and where he is after missing the entire 2017 season with a knee injury:
"Yeah, I think I've been really impressed with his work ethic. And I think he's a very intelligent young man, and obviously he's spent a lot of time working to get back to where he wants to be. I've just been really impressed with the way that he's grasped our offense, and with the way that he's staying engaged throughout the process."
On Ebron and if the sky is the limit for him in this new offense:
"Yeah. You know, I've really enjoyed working with Eric…"
He brings the energy, doesn't he?
"He brings the energy. I think the one thing about Eric, too, is that Eric studies. I think Eric is very in-tune to route running. I think he has the ability to stick routes and to be strong at the catch point. I think what I've been most impressed that he's been working at is his craft. You know, I think he's been a guy that we've really enjoyed having around; there's always a smile on his face, and he's a very team-oriented guy, and I greatly appreciate that about him."