Tamme toiled very professionally during that time, and only one of those 28 games provided a starting assignment. That contest was the regular season finale at Buffalo when the club was preparing for a post-season run that would result in an appearance in Super Bowl XLIV.
Tamme caught six passes over his first two seasons, including his then career-long reception of 21 yards in that start in snowy Orchard Park.
The Kentucky product was a special teams ace for Indianapolis in starting his career. Tamme had 13 tackles on the coverage units in 2009 after having two during his rookie year.
His public profile during that time was not among the most prominent on the team. That was about to change, and quickly, as the 2010 unfolded.
Tamme began the season as he had the two previous ones. The first six games brought nothing new but late in the club's game at Washington on October 17, starting tight end Dallas Clark suffered a wrist injury that would cost the Pro Bowler the remainder of the season.
In a sport that provides opportunity in the blink of an eye, Tamme never batted his as he became the newest personification of the club's 'Next Man Up' motto.
Tamme would start eight of the final 10 games. He did more than just fill a role in one of the league's highest octane offenses, he thrived in it as the club fought for a ninth straight playoff appearance.
Tamme only once in his career prior to Clark's injury had caught more than one pass in a game, and that was two receptions against Tennessee in the 2008 finale. His production level was about to change dramatically.
Tamme made his first start in a pivotal division battle against Houston on November 1. His two-yard touchdown reception that opened the scoring in an eventual 30-17 Colts win was among his six receptions on the night. The victory helped avenge a season-opening loss to the Texans and kept Indianapolis alive in the divisional title hunt.
Indianapolis opened with three wide receivers in the next two contests, but that did not slow Tamme. He had 11 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown at Philadelphia and followed with seven more catches against Cincinnati. Tamme would catch no fewer than four passes in each of the club's remaining seven games.
Tamme wound up leading all NFL receivers with 67 receptions over the final 10 games. It marked the third-highest seasonal reception total ever by a Colts tight end, behind only Clark's totals in 2008 and 2009 (100, 77). His 11 receptions at Philadelphia marked the third-most ever in a single-game by a Colts tight end. Tamme also started the club's Wild Card game against the New York Jets, catching five more passes.
It was a very successful season personally for Tamme, and he was a component who helped the club win its last four games to earn a 10-6 record and the AFC South title.
Tamme now is knee-deep in training camp and preseason games with his teammates. It is the environment Tamme knows is critical for teams and individuals to reach goals.
"It's always hard because nothing prepares you for camp practice and football games except camp practice and football games," he said. "You can run as much as you want and lift, and everyone's done that and I feel good, but every single year, no matter what the off-season plan is, when you go to camp it's just difficult. That's how it's supposed to be."
Tamme knows, like everyone else, that his 2010 performance is consigned to the history books. His training camp and preseason efforts are aimed to define this season and build on the experience he gained last year.
"It's always good to have that experience," said Tamme. "To get out there last year and be able to do those type of things (was good), but I go into camp the same way every year – to go compete, find that role with the team, get to know the guys and go try to get better every day."
Last year provided Tamme with a much different set of experiences on which now to draw. Tamme had a range of lessons from the 2010 season.
"There were so many different things. I don't think I could point to just one lesson," he said. "The experience of being out there with these guys (was good). I think the ups and downs that we went through last year (were lessons), all the injuries, the tough stretch of losses. We never stopped fighting. Guys just stepped in and were ready to go. I think that's kind of the character of this team. We kept doing things the way we do things around here. I definitely learned a lot from that. Obviously, we didn't end it (the season) the way we wanted to. Only one team does, and it wasn't us. I think this year everybody's excited, hopefully staying healthy and doing what we can to make a big run."
Now that the public is much more aware of his ability, those outside observers know what was known about Tamme inside the organization prior to last season. Tamme's talents and ethic long had been recognized, and he plans to maintain the approach that has helped him so far.
"I've always been confident in what I can do. I think the people here (with the club) had the same feeling," said Tamme. "I felt ready when I was able to get in there. Hopefully, this year we can stay more healthy. We've always had a team that's full of guys who are ready. That's a good thing about this organization. My goal is pretty much the same as always – doing whatever the team asks me to do, try to excel at it and try to win the Super Bowl. That's pretty much what my focus is on."
With the preseason underway, Tamme is optimistic for the outlook and happy to contribute however possible.
"I'm really excited about this coming season. Obviously, last year was a lot of fun until the end," he said. "We're kind of ready to do whatever it takes to see that we give ourselves a shot at being that team (that ends the season pleased). Overall, (there were) a lot of positive things from last year. I really enjoyed growing as a player and playing with these guys. I'm looking forward to doing it again."