INDIANAPOLIS –Dwayne Allen spoke early this season of not having reached his goal just by making the Colts' roster.
Allen's vision was much larger. He said he would not be happy until the club had achieved success in its ultimate goal when he could hoist a trophy with triumphant teammates.
Such talk sometimes is brash, baseless and empty, but not from Allen. He is a dedicated performer who drew season-long praise from all organizational corners, including from where it counted heavily.
"Dwayne Allen, really to me, is a veteran who just happens to be a rookie," said General Manager Ryan Grigson at the season's quarter point. "The way he carries himself, the way he practices, his body language, just everything speaks to a guy who has been in this league a while."
Allen was one of five Colts to open every game. After not having a reception in his debut, Allen did so in each of the remaining 15 games.
He had at least three receptions in eight outings and set the franchise rookie positional record with 45. Allen's reception total ranked 12th in the AFC and 22nd in the NFL for tight ends, while leading all rookie performers. His 521 reception yards ranked 12th and 21st, leading all rookies, too.
Heavy contributions from tight ends has marked Bruce Arians' career, and he loved the dimension Allen added from the start.
"His strength is evident," said Arians. "It's very hard for a young tight end to come in and block at this level, and he's shown an outstanding effort and ability to do it. His pass catching is good. He's probably as sudden a guy with the ball in his hands as I've seen in a while at tight end."
Allen's three scoring receptions tied for third-most on the club and ranked behind T.Y. Hilton (seven) and Reggie Wayne (five). Allen's first career catch produced a touchdown against Minnesota.
"He's such a dynamic player. He can do so many things," said Andrew Luck. "You'll see him split out wide. You'll see him in the backfield. You'll see him with his hand down in the tight end position.
"It's nice to see the breadth and volume he can do as a football player. I think it adds fun to the offense."
Away from the team for 12 weeks, Chuck Pagano never stopped watching games and practices to evaluate his players. Pagano held the same opinion as Grigson.
"He doesn't look like a rookie to me. Early on maybe, but I've seen him progress and get better," said Pagano. "I've seen his blocking get better. I think he's outstanding.
"He's very, very strong at the point (of attack). He's done a great job as an in-line blocker and then in the pass game when we're able to get (him) out and in space."
Allen said late in the year it was not time to feel complacent or excited about playing as a rookie. He was much more concerned about the technical aspects of his game that could be improved.
He credited Pagano for instilling in the spring and summer the notion of rookies expecting to compete and succeed, not just hoping for it.
"He gave us shirts that listed us 32 out of 32 teams in the NFL," said Allen. "He said, 'That's where they predict you. Why can't we go to the playoffs? Why can't we win the division? Why not? Why not?' That's kind of the way (we played) all year."
When given the chance to reflect and tie a bow on what had been an productive year that saw him exceed the reception totals of the club's previous two top rookie tight ends (42, Ken Dilger, 1995; 35, Mackey, 1963), Allen showed his nature by talking only about getting better going forward.
"The 2012 team had a lot of optimism. But 2013, only time will tell," said Allen. "Coach (Pagano) talked about how the bar is set for this program. The team that he wants to coach, the team that he wants to have in Indianapolis, the bar is set high for us.
"That team's (2013) character is going to be built this offseason and in training camp. Hopefully, I'll take advantage of this offseason and get in the best shape possible so when it's third-and-whatever and my team calls on me to make a big play, I'll be there."