ANDERSON, Ind. -- I’ve not visited the Texans yet and I am excluding Andrew Luck from the conversation.
Given those two conditions, I’ve found a singular newcomer in watching practices of the Colts, Titans and Jaguars who’s only competition as an eye-catcher thus far is a player heading into his seventh season -- Titans free-agent addition Kamerion Wimbley, a defensive end.
Who’s this attention grabber?
Colts third-round rookie tight end Dwayne Allen.
As simpletons who need guys to fit cookie-cutter molds and job descriptions, many of us have been tempted to cast Allen as a blocker set to balance out the guy the Colts drafted a round ahead of him, Coby Fleener.
But while Fleener’s been streaky in the early stages of his first camp, I’m told Allen’s steadily been the same guy I’ve been watching over the last couple of days. He’s thick (6-foot-3, 255 pounds), athletic and versatile. He’s playing the “F” spot in the offense of Bruce Arians, a “move” tight end who can line up anywhere, shift anywhere, block as needed and get open to show off his quality hands and run with the ball.
It’s probably too gushing a review off a small sample, but even this cynic is having trouble resisting …
Allen looks like he was built for this offense.
It’s a great time to be a tight end coming into the NFL, I asked, isn’t it?
“It’s a great time to be a tight end coming into Bruce Arians’ offense, definitely,” he said. “Because it’s a very tight end-oriented offense and of course Andrew Luck is very tight end-friendly. With the three- and four-tight end sets he ran at Stanford, his comfort level right now is going to be hitting the tight ends and moving the sticks that way. ”
Allen and Fleener joke about their joint mission: Make sure Luck stays devoted to his tight ends and that the Colts stay a two tight end team. Don’t allow Arians and Luck to become curious about what five fast, tough wide receivers would look like on the field together.
Said Andrew Luck: "He's done a great job. He's really adapting, he's got great short-area burst, great short-area quickness and he's a lot of fun to play around."
Rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton could certainly understand it if the Colts rarely pull Allen from the offensive huddle.
“For his size and the things he’s doing?” Hilton said. “It’s incredible. I haven’t seen anyone like him. Running over people, he can block, and his route running is phenomenal.”
The early comfort level shouldn’t be a surprise.
“They are not asking me to do anything different than I’ve already done in college,” Allen said of his tape from Clemson. “I moved around a lot and showed a lot of versatility in college, especially this past year. So they’re just utilizing my talents.”
“Can I block? Yes. And I pride myself in my blocking. But I also think I am a hell of a receiver. And I pride myself on my route running and catching the ball.”