Colts Sending Message To Erik Swoope---We Need You

Intro: With the major part of the player acquisition largely complete in 2017, the Colts have sent another message to Erik Swoope---you’re going to play a big role this coming season.

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INDIANAPOLIS – It was a signing that likely will not set off the Richter scale for the 2017 Indianapolis Colts.

New tight end Mo Alie-Cox comes to the Colts having not played football in seven years.

He's a project.

Similar to how Mo Alie-Cox was viewed in 2014.

Although, it's probably not fair to directly compare Alie-Cox and Swoope.

Alie-Cox arrives in Indianapolis with his last football experience coming in 2009.

Three years ago, Swoope descended on the Circle City with zero/nada/zilch football background.

Yes, the signing of Alie-Cox has had Swoope pondering back to his rather astonishing journey to the team's No. 2 tight end.

"Seeing another basketball guy, seeing the hardships that he has yet to come that he's not even aware of, they've made me think about exactly how far I've come along," Swoope says.

"Thinking about training camp, not knowing how to put on my shoulder pads, getting used to a helmet. To now, having played 16 games going into another season hoping to just grow from that. It's exciting. It makes me want to continue to work hard and see what's in store."

What is coming in 2017 is a huge uptick in the responsibilities being asked of Swoope.

The days of Swoope being a "maybe it will work out" story are coming to an end.

Judging by how the Colts have operated this offseason, they are counting on Swoope big time in 2017.

First, the Colts traded Dwayne Allen in March, bumping Swoope into the team's No. 2 tight end role.

Then, despite the '17 draft having tight end depth Chris Ballard had yet to see in his history as an NFL scout, the Colts did not spend any of their eight draft picks on a tight end.

In a way, it was another reminder to Swoope.

We need you. We believe in you.

"I'm expecting they want to see a lot from me and I'm just going to make sure I'm ready," Swoope says of his 2017 role. "I don't really see it as pressure because if you've worked your process, if you've worked hard every day, those moments are going to come. If not, it'll be embarrassing.

"I believe if I continue to work hard in the whole offseason program, training camp, when those moments come, I'll be ready."

Swoope was ready last season to earn some situational action within the offense.

Blocking responsibilities will definitely grow for Swoope in 2017, as the Colts try to stay as balanced as possible when using two tight ends.

Last year, Swoope played 244 snaps. Jack Doyle, the No. 2 tight end in 2016, logged 750 snaps.

Bigger things are coming Swoope's way this fall.

Part of the reason Swoope has put himself in this position is his impressive mental makeup to go from football novice to a starting role on a budding offense.

Confidence is there and continues to sprout.

"Every day it does," Swoope says. "Every route, every catch, every rep of anything gives me more confidence because I can see myself, I can see the development and it builds trust in my own mind because at the end of the day, you've got to be able to make plays and prove it to your teammates. Every rep I get, I have the intention that I'm going to gain some type of ground."

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