Colts Tight End Named AFC Offensive Player-of-the-Week
After reeling in a career-high 14 catches for 119 yards against the Houston Texans last week, Colts tight end Dallas Clark was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week. But Clark's performance last week was nothing new – the tight end ranks second in the NFL in receptions with 60. On Wednesday, the Colts' seven-year veteran spoke with reporters about his impressive season and the team's upcoming game against the New England Patriots.
Q: What does being named the AFC's Offensive Player-of-the-Week mean to you?
Clark: "It is cool. It has never happened to me before, so I'm kind of new to that, but it is pretty cool. A lot of things were involved in (my performance), and it certainly wasn't an individual award for sure."
Q: How much do you enjoy playing in the Colts' rivalry versus New England?
Clark: "It's awesome. I love it. You love playing against teams that are really good and this team; they have always been well-coached, smart and a good team. They don't beat themselves, and anything you get, you have to earn. And we are looking forward to the match-up."
Q: In the week leading up to a big rivalry game, is it easy to treat it like any other?
Clark: "It is definitely easy to maintain. You've been involved in enough of them you just sort of keep it separated. It is just like every other week. You prepare the same, you go about your business and you do your routine, but it's not perceived that way because of all the talk, which is great. It's great for the game, both organizations – but as players, winning this one doesn't do anything for us in the playoffs, doesn't get us a free game. But a loss doesn't count us out either. It is just like any other week. We just have to prepare and try and get better."
Q: Do you think the Patriots will cover you differently after your big game against Houston last week?
Clark: "We'll see. It all depends. We'll find out during the first series and see what they do. But with them, they always have a wrinkle or something that hasn't been on film or we haven't seen, so we just have to prepare for everything and adjust all the way."
Q: Since both teams know one another so well, is this Sunday's game kind of like a chess match?
Clark: "It really is. It is kind of the same with anyone, you think you know what they are going to run, you hope they run what you prepare for, but this team is smart and can adjust to a lot of different things, and that's what makes them effective. They can adjust and play different roles in different situations."
Q: Do you think the offense will continue to pass as much as it has in recent games?
Clark: "This past week, I think you throw it out of the stat sheet because this is a different game. (Last week) we wanted to attack. We wanted to get them running and tired and try and take advantage of that. To do that, it is best when you throw the ball a lot. That was kind of an abnormality, and you probably won't see it again. It is just one of those things when you're trying to take advantage of certain things…but we are definitely not going to throw away the run. The good thing is, when we ran last week we were effective."
Q: How have some of the younger receivers around you helped the team this season?
Clark: "We have had some guys, like Pierre (Garcon), who was just watching and learning last year and having the luxury of sitting back, practicing and seeing how it's done. And now he's coming out here and doing it. Then you have a guy like Austin (Collie), who is a smart, smart kid and is just learning every day and improving every day. They've done a great job in responding in their role, and everyone else is just trying to help them. It has been a fun year, just seeing how they progress. It hasn't happened in a while. We've been pretty solidified in our five (skill players). When you make an adjustment, you don't know how it is going to go, but it has been cool to see these young guys step up and make some big plays in some big games."
Q: Year-in and year-out this series has had a big affect on playoff positioning. Are you guys aware of the importance of how this game might decide things down the line?
Clark: "With this game, you don't know the significance until the year plays out. But each game is such a big game. Last week was a huge game against Houston for the division, now this … You want to put yourself in the best position, and that's why each game around this time of the year is critical."