ANDERSON, IN --- Colts tight end Dwayne Allen is entering a contract year 13 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season. Until now, he had always been listed in at 265 pounds but missed three games last year and played through pain in many others. Allen also missed 15 games in 2014. Now, he's leaner at 6'3", hovering around 255 pounds, and hopes to both stay healthy and become even more of an offensive weapon.
"I'm glad everyone is noticing my physique, because I worked hard on this body," Allen joked Saturday. "From last year to this year, I've lost just over 13 pounds to get to a very comfortable playing weight. I can still handle the in-line blocking stuff but can also get down and stretch the field a bit more."
Allen already showed off that ability last season with a turn-and-burn 41-yard touchdown down the sideline at Denver week 1 on a simple out route, then again on a very similar route for a 35-yard score against Cincinnati in October. Allen had six games last season where he caught at least one pass that went for 20 yards or more. His 8 touchdowns in 2014 also doubled the number of times he got into the endzone from his first two years as a pro.
"We have a great strength and conditioning staff here. (Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach) Rich (Howell) had always told me that I need to cut down on a little bit of weight, that I play better at the 255 range" Allen said, when explaining his decision get lighter.
It took some convincing though for Allen to commit to slimming down slightly.
"I was more so worried about the guys I was going against and how big they were," he admitted, "but decided to take his advice this offseason and cut some weight. So far, so good."
Why didn't Allen take the advice before? He said he felt more comfortable being heavier, considering the schedule of pass rushers he'd have to help block in 2014. Some of those included DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller of the Broncos, Trent Cole when he was with the Eagles, and some guy named J.J. Watt with the Texans.
Fast forward to the present, and the initial results in training camp look promising.
"He looks great. When he flexes out and gets in the wide receiver stance when they displace him in the formation, you can mistake him for a bigger wideout at times he looks so good," said Head Coach Chuck Pagano Saturday. "His movement skills are phenomenal right now. He's feeling great. The hips, the knee, whatever he's dealt with in the past, losing some weight has obviously helped him. He's playing at a high level right now."
Pagano joked Allen still doesn't have a choice but to be an in-line blocking tight end at times and jokingly warned not to challenge Allen's aggressiveness as a blocker. Allen said in those situations he may be leaner but still as strong as he was at 265 pounds.
Like any player though, the overall vision is to stay healthy and be productive. That's the challenge for Allen in 2015, but he insists he's not focusing on the games he's missed in the past.
"Man, my health is the least of my concerns. I have all those other weapons on offense that I got to beat out, so I can get some balls my way," Allen said jokingly.
Allen caught those 8 touchdowns last season on only 29 receptions. He is one of the half dozen pass catchers Andrew Luck will likely have to choose from week in and week out, and if he looks faster on the field in 2015, your eyes aren't deceiving you. It's a product of the number Allen now sees when he steps on the scale.