WHATEVER IS NEEDED

Tight end Brody Eldridge, the Colts' fifth-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, said he'll play whatever role the team asks him to play.

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TE-Brody Eldridge's Says He'll Play Whatever Role the Colts Need

INDIANAPOLIS – Versatility helped Brody Eldridge make the NFL.

In Eldridge's case, that meant doing what was needed to help the University of Oklahoma football team win the last four seasons, and in his case, he said that meant blocking wherever and whenever he was needed to block.

But Eldridge said this much is also true.

Just because he primarily blocked for the Sooners, and just because he played nearly every position on the offensive front, doesn't mean he can't do more.

And he said it sure doesn't mean he can't catch passes.

"It doesn't matter," said Eldridge, a fifth-round selection by the Colts in the 2010 NFL Draft and one of multiple rookies who will be profiled on Colts.com in the coming weeks.

"Whatever they need, wherever they want to stick me, I'll do the best I can to perform at the level they need me to."

Those words aren't uncommon from NFL rookies.

But for Eldridge (6-feet-5, 265 pounds), it's more than just early-career talk. His career at Oklahoma was about performing at a high level wherever and whenever he was asked.

"He was willing to play any role to make us better, and he took an attitude to the field that was a model for others in our program," Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops told the school's public relations department recently.

"There were a number of players who held a higher profile, but none who were more imant to our success. There were years when we mentioned him as one of our most valuable contributors. As a sophomore, he was the All-Big 12 fullback and didn't have a single rushing attempt.

"That tells you a little bit about Brody."

Eldridge, after entering college as a defensive player, moved to offense after red-shirting as a freshman, then played in multiple tight-end sets and as a blocking back as a freshman. He was All-Big 12 as a sophomore fullback, then despite injuries, stayed productive in his final two seasons.

"He's a guy that is a very fine in-line blocker, one that you'll be able to see can handle the edge, both from a pass protection standpoint and also from a run game standpoint," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "He certainly will be able to give us some help in our short-yardage situations.

"He's a guy that is going to have to develop a little bit, in terms of the passing game, but overall, I think he's going to be a great addition for us."

Eldridge missed three games with an ankle injury as a junior, then with injuries hurting the Sooners along the offensive line, he played not only tight end as a senior, but guard and center, too.

"We had so many injuries along our offensive front that we had to shore up our blocking situation, and Brody had been our best blocker for two or three seasons," Stoops said. "He responded like I knew he would. He attacked his responsibilities with a lot of determination and was very successful. I am sure he would have preferred to be showcased at tight end, but we needed him in the line, and he was among our best there, too, when we made that move.

"He had that quality from day one. He is the consummate teammate and team player. From a coaching perspective, you live for guys like Brody. He cares only about the team and gives you max effort whether it's in the off-season, in a practice or on game day. Brody is one of those guys who elevates the people around him. When you see another guy who works that hard and is that competitive, it shames you into rising up to his level."

Colts President Bill Polian said Eldridge can make an impact in the rushing game "at the point of attack, both in short-yardage" and goal-line situations.

"He's physical, tough (and) can move you," Polian said. "He runs a 4.73 (40-yard dash), which isn't bad by tight end standards. He doesn't have a lot of experience in the passing part of the game, but that's not what we were overly interested in at that point. We were looking for someone who can improve the blocking at the point of the attack, both in short-yardage and goal line, and in our basic double-tight end packages.

"We're quite satisfied that he can do that, and we're anxious to have him."

Eldridge said although the versatility and experience as a blocker could help in the NFL, that wasn't the primary reason he played the role at Oklahoma.

"Not until after the season did I realize it helped me," he said. "It was all about the team. I think it's going to help me. You can only carry so many o-linemen. I don't know the possibility of me doing that, but the fact that I've played there is probably a good sign that I can play more than just tight end. I played fullback, too. It will help me find a spot, for sure."

And while Polian and Caldwell each said he is more advanced as a blocker than a receiver, Eldridge caught 13 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown with the Sooners, and said he believes he can contribute with the Colts as a receiver when needed, too.

"That was just my role," Eldridge said. "To get on the field, they asked me to do it. I was a defensive player and they moved me to tight end. It showed they had confidence in me. Why not do it if they have confidence in me to do it?

"That was my role at Oklahoma. I can catch the ball. Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do it."

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