LEARNING FROM EXPERIENCE

Tight end Jacob Tamme led the Colts last preseason as a rookie with 10 receptions for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Although he caught just three passes for 12 yards in the regular season, he said the experience of his rookie season will help this season.

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Colts Second-Year TE Jacob Tamme Says '08 Experience Will Help in '09

INDIANAPOLIS – Jacob Tamme last season didn't get as much significant playing time as a rookie as he hoped.

That didn't keep him from getting experience. Not at all.

Tamme, a second-year tight end for the Colts from the University of Kentucky, said recently that while his plays were relatively limited last season, he still gained valuable perspective on what it takes to be successful in the NFL.

He saw what it was to practice. He saw what it was to train.

He saw what it was to work.

Now, he said it's time to take what he saw and use it.

And he said he couldn't be more ready.

"There's a big difference as far as surroundings between your rookie year and now," Tamme said recently during the Colts' offseason conditioning program at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "You're a little more settled. You know the area and you know the people. That's the big thing. You know the people around the building. You know what's going on in the weight room.

"You get so many initiations into the NFL in your rookie year. You get so many situations. Even last year, without playing a lot of offense on the field, I still got so much experience both in the preseason and in practice and on special teams that there are lot of things I can take with me and build on.

"I know what it's about out there on the field. That's nice."

Tamme, a fourth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, got most his experience not during the regular season, but in training camp and preseason.

Tamme, who finished his collegiate career as Kentucky's all-time leading receiver among tight ends with 133 receptions for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 10 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns in the 2008 preseason.

He caught three passes for 12 yards in the regular season, but said the experience gained in preseason – then in practice – has been invaluable.

"A lot was learned last year, and I'm sure all rookies go through that process," he said. "Now, you have a year of experience in some fashion – whether it just be practicing all year or as a starter. Obviously, a starter gets a little more experience, but either way you've been in the NFL for a year. You've been figuring out what's going on, so there's no reason this can't be the biggest jump because the rookie year is tough for a lot of different reasons.

"When you come in that first few weeks/months of your rookie year, you're just trying to figure out what is going on for most of it. Once you figure out a little bit about what's going on, it's half the battle."

Tamme, considered one of the nation's top receiving tight ends in college and entering the draft, said his offseason goal is to become a more complete player. He said that means focusing not only on improving as a blocker, but on special teams, too.

"My goal is to become the best tight end I can become," he said. "I'm never going to be a big, 260-pound tight end, but I can put on some good muscle in the weight room. I've been working hard at doing that. I can get a little bit faster to help exploit my speed from the tight end position, so I can work on technique on both routes and blocking. Those have been the four things. It sounds cliché, but I'm just trying to get stronger and trying to get a little bit faster, then trying to work technique in route work and blocking.

"If I can improve in all four of those areas, I think I can definitely become a better player."

A major benefit in that area, Tamme said, was the presence of veteran tight end Dallas Clark. Although Tamme wasn't on the field extensively, he said the chance to watch Clark – who set a franchise record for receptions by a tight end last season – on the sidelines and on tape was invaluable.

"He's a quintessential pro – just his consistency," Tamme said. "He so quietly amassed all of these numbers last year and being around him every day, week to week, you would never know. I didn't know. I don't know if he knew, but I didn't know what was going on even though he was having a great year. It was Week 15 and I looked at his stats and they were unbelievable. It's just the way he plays. I learned a lot from that, and I hope I have a lot of the same mindset he does and try to learn from the way he thinks and approaches the game."

Now, Tamme said his goal is to perform in whatever way his role allows.

"I definitely feel like I can get out there and make some plays and help us win," Tamme said. "You have a guy like Dallas to learn from and watch. That was a huge help for me last year and continues to be. So, you just have to be ready when your number is called and I hope to be ready for that.

"Some people have different philosophies on individual goals and things. I've never been a big individual goal guy. A lot of people set them and that's great, but I feel like if I focus on doing whatever I'm called upon to do to help us win, then I'll be satisfied. If that's catching 100 balls or if it's going in a few different times and making a play and making a block – I don't necessarily care what I do as long as I'm ready when my number's called and I step up and do my job. The other stuff really takes care of itself."

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