Despite Success, Tamme Says Rookie Season As Difficult As He Was Told
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Jacob Tamme got the warning early.
Dallas Clark, the Colts' six-year veteran tight end, told Tamme – a rookie tight end and the Colts' fourth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft – early this past offseason the coming months would be among the toughest of his football career.
A new team. New surroundings.
Bigger, faster opponents.
A new, more complex offense – especially, a new, more-complex offense.
Tamme is nearly three weeks into his first training camp. He was productive in the Colts' second preseason game, and Clark praised his play afterward.
Still, Tamme said this much is true:
The warning Clark gave him?
It could hardly have been more right.
"He (Clark) told me those exact words," Tamme said this week at 2008 Colts Training Camp, which continued on Tuesday with a pair of practices at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
"He said, 'Hey, your rookie year is tough. It's the toughest year you have. You have to make an adjustment to everything, not only the game, but the playbook, and the whole deal. The only thing you can do is take it one day at a time. That sounds cliché, but it's the only thing you can do.
"That's what I'm trying to focus on doing – just one play at a time, earn the people's respect and make plays when you get a chance."
Tamme, who played collegiately at the University of Kentucky, took a step toward earning that respect this past Saturday in the Colts' overtime loss to Carolina in their second preseason game.
After catching one pass for seven yards in the preseason opener, Tamme caught five passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns against Carolina.
"Jacob did a lot of things we'd seen him do in college, things we expected him to do and things he'd been doing in practice," Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. "He got an opunity to catch the ball and he felt comfortable out there for the first time.
"He showed what he's capable of doing in the passing game."
Said Tamme, "It was fun. It was a blast, getting a chance to make some plays out there. That's all you can hope for, to get down near the end zone. All you can hope for is the ball coming your way."
When the ball came Tamme's way against Carolina, often it came from veteran quarterback Jared Lorenzen, who spent his first three seasons with the New York Giants and who also played collegiately at Kentucky.
The two played one season together for the Wildcats, which Tamme said was enough for the duo to be familiar, but hardly enough to have any sort of ongoing feel for one another.
"Jared obviously threw some great balls right on the money, so that was part of it," Tamme said. "Jared and I both played at Kentucky, but we never really played together, so it wasn't like we had a big-time chemistry."
Tamme added with a smile, "Maybe we do now, after that game. No matter who the quarterback is, you have to be ready to get open. That's all I'm trying to do."
Since being selected in the draft, Tamme said he has worked to first grasp not only the details of one of the NFL's most complex offenses, but the tight end's versatility within that scheme.
"We use the tight end a lot of different ways in this offense, in all sorts of different positions," Tamme said. "I'm just trying to do my best to show I can fill one of those roles and step in.
"There's still little stuff I have to keep working on. I have to keep getting into the playbook, but for the most part, I'm feeling good about knowing what's going on out there. It's a process.
"I have to finish up these five days and keep getting better with that."
Tamme said his aim primarily in training camp is to continue working on his technique, while at the same time learning the role of tight end on the Colts' offense, a role that consists not only of lining up at the traditional tight-end location, but in the slot and in the backfield.
That's not an easy task, but then again, Tamme said Clark never said it would be easy.
"We (tight ends) do so many different spots in this offense," Tamme said. "You have to know the technique at each spot, so it's getting better and better.
"This is a little more complex (than college). As a tight end, the complexity of it comes from all the different positions on the field. I keep saying it, but it's a huge difference. At Kentucky, you're lining up at tight end 90 percent of the time and slot a few times.
"Here, you line up at tight end some of the time, in the slot some of the time, and you're in the backfield some, too. You put yourself in the backfield, the whole game changes. You have to know everything.
"All of those parts make it a little more complex, but it's coming along pretty good."