Wayne's return is big, but so is Allen's

INDIANAPOLIS -- At some point in March, Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen will likely be medically cleared after having hip surgery in the fall.

Returning to the field -- when it happens -- will be a significant step for Allen, who said before last season he was one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

Much of the Colts' injury talk -- and rightfully so -- has surrounded receiver Reggie Wayne's recovery from a torn ACL at the age of 35, but Allen has significant value, too.

The Colts went into last season thinking they would have two of the league's up-and-coming tight ends in second-year players Allen and Coby Fleener to go with their other offensive weapons.

Allen wanted to build on his rookie season in which he started all 16 games and caught 45 passes for 521 yards and three touchdowns.

Those thoughts quickly changed in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders.

Allen injured his hip during the second half when he landed awkwardly after going up for a pass that Oakland's Kevin Burnett tipped.

Allen's injury left the Colts without stability at tight end outside of Fleener, who had to become a complete tight end and not just one who could catch passes. Allen excelled at blocking and catching the ball, which is why he started during his rookie season.

Justice Cunningham. Jack Doyle. Weslye Saunders. Dominique Jones.

Those are the tight ends not named Fleener who caught passes from Andrew Luck last season.

"This past season was very exciting from the standpoint of watching the guys go out there and play," Allen said. "Every week, not knowing what you're going to get on the field. The way that we just picked and plugged guys in and continued to have success is the highlight of the season. Of course, the low light was me not being able to play. That's a part of this game. Injuries happen. I was able to cope really quick and get over it and cheer those guys on."

Allen isn't talking about what he plans to do on the field. He simply wants to get back there first then he's taking a show-them rather than a talk-about-it approach because he knows that won't get him anywhere.

"I'm nowhere near I was and my goal in the offseason is not to get where I was, but to surpass that," he said. "With the increase in the range of motion in my hips, I should."