INDIANAPOLIS –Anytime a tight end finds himself in the same sentence as Rob Gronkowski, that's a good thing.
No, Mo Alie-Cox and Gronk probably live slightly different lifestyles away from football. But on the gridiron, the two were elite in their big play ability last season.
In 2016, the NFL had 53 tight ends catch at least 15 passes.
Swoope's 15 catches averaged 19.8 yards per reception.
The only tight end with a higher yards per catch?
Gronk, at 21.6 YPC.
From a snap count standpoint, Swoope's NFL experience is about five games old.
But what Swoope showed when the ball came his way last year had the Colts believing that the former basketball player was deserving of a grander role in his fourth NFL season.
"You hope that you can get guys and develop them and eventually they grow up to be able to take those spots and be able to succeed and be productive in those spots," offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski says of Swoope's progression.
Down some weight going into a season where he's a likely starter, Swoope does not shy away from the increased role coming his way.
The trade of Dwayne Allen had several messages.
One of those was the Colts indirectly telling Swoope: we believe in you, and we need you.
"It's a huge opportunity and I plan to run right through that and do everything I can," Swoope says.
When Swoope first signed with the Colts in spring of 2014, he made a cut up of all the basketball playing tight ends.
If a player trying to follow Swoope's path did that now, he would likely have a play or two from the Colts' new No. 2 tight end.
The Colts open up their 2017 preseason on Sunday.
Three years ago, Swoope had never been inside an NFL stadium when he walked into Met-Life Stadium for the 2014 preseason opener.
How times have changed.
"I still have a long way to go, a long way to go," Swoope says. "But I'm heading in the right direction I believe."
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