For Colts Tight End Jacob Tamme, Multiple Roles Mean Being a Better Player
INDIANAPOLIS – Jacob Tamme's not interested so much in what he's called.
Tamme, entering his third NFL season, has played at times as a reserve tight end for the Colts, and he has contributed in a big way on special teams. He said whether he's called tight end or special teams player doesn't much matter.
Tamme said he just wants to play.
That's his objective, whatever you call him.
"It's obvious the more things you can do, the better football player you are," Tamme said during the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, which concluded in early June at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Tamme (6-feet-3, 236 pounds) has turned that into a personal mantra in two seasons.
Tamme, selected by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft from the University of Kentucky, has played an extensive role in two seasons with the Colts.
"It's gone by slow in a way, and sometimes, it goes by so fast," Tamme said. "But now, third season – and I'm excited."
He not only has played a role as a reserve behind Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, playing a backup role as a receiving tight end who can make plays down the field, he has developed into one of the Colts' top special teams players.
Tamme said his special teams play hasn't developed by chance. He said it became a focal point, one that he improved last off-season and throughout last regular season.
And he did so with a purpose:
Do as many things as possible, the better you are.
And the more imant you are to the team.
But more than that, Tamme said, the more you can do in more areas, the better overall player you become.
"When you can get out there and play on all the special teams and do things on offense or defense – whatever the position is – it makes you a better player," Tamme said. "I think special teams made me a better offensive player last year.
"I look forward to building on that."
While Tamme played solely offense in college, and while he works extensively with the Colts' offense throughout the season, his impact on special teams has been as much on the Colts' coverage teams as on the return units. That has meant being essentially a defensive player at times on special teams.
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 while securing a place on the Colts' roster.
He caught three passes for 12 yards in the 2008 regular season, then led the Colts in receiving in the 2009 preseason with 11 receptions for 107 yards.
But this past season, he also finished as the fourth-leading tackler on special teams with 13, and if making a contribution tackling rather than receiving were odd at first, he said that strangeness didn't last long.
"It was weird at first, because I hadn't made a tackle since high school," Tamme said. "But I did play defense in high school, and (played offense and defense) my whole career. It's not like I'd never done that before, so once you get back into it you come back and just become a football player again.
"Sometimes you get so drilled into one thing. Special teams, you're more of a football player."
That, Tamme said, is something on which he has focused.
"I really took a lot of pride in that last year, growing as a special teams player," Tamme said. "It was good to get involved in all of the special teams, the offensive and defensive ends of it. They were important to what we did last year, and it was something we had a lot of guys take pride in.
"We had some really good teams in different areas."
But Tamme said being drafted as a tight end, and having played that position at a high level on the collegiate level, his goal is still to develop into a contributor at the tight end position.
"That's what I've always taken a lot of pride in, is being a guy who can make some plays, hopefully get the ball in the end zone and get some points on the board," he said. "We have a great offense here. I'm working to fill my role in that, and I think the special teams experience will go along way to being a great offensive player."
Tamme's opportunities to do so have been understandably limited in his first two seasons, primarily by the presence of Clark, one of the NFL's top tight ends and a player who rarely has missed extensive time during the regular season.
"He's one of the best in the league, one of the best that's ever played the position, so it's a great thing to be able to learn from him and play with him," Tamme said. "We were on the field some at the same time last year. We have a good group of tight ends.
"I'm just working hard to fill my role – whatever that ends up being, hopefully, making some plays."