Despite being more versatile than Coby Fleener, Allen didn’t have a clear advantage because he missed 21 games the past three seasons due to injury, including 15 in 2013.
But there Allen was, standing at his locker Tuesday afternoon talking about being the Colts’ No. 1 tight end after they didn't pursue Fleener in free agency in March.
“It did bother me. I’m sure it would bother anyone,” said Allen, who signed a four-year contract worth more than $29 million, about not knowing if he would return.
There’s no more looking over the shoulder wondering where he stands within the organization. It’s Allen’s show when it comes to the tight ends for Indianapolis.
“I’m very confident in my ability to play the tight end position and have always been -- probably a little bit too much outspoken with that confidence in my ability to play the tight end position, but it was surprising how quickly things unfolded whenever free agency started,” he said
A decision between Allen and Fleener would have been an easy one for the Colts had Allen managed to stay healthy. Allen wants to get rid of the notion that he’s injury-prone. He's doing yoga twice a week to help with his flexibility, which will hopefully keep him on the field for all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2012.
“Want to keep up the flexibility,” Allen said. “Doing some work, whether it’s yoga, Pilates, all things tied to flexibility. Making sure I continue to go through football drills and stay in football shape from a muscle-memory standpoint ... You can’t run or overprepare for injuries. It’s going to happen. It’s part of the game. You do small things that you hope are preventative measures.”
The Colts badly need Allen to stay healthy because of the lack of depth at tight end with Fleener gone. Jack Doyle is the No. 2 tight end, but there’s a lot of uncertainty after that at a position where the Colts routinely have three players active for games.
A simple glance of the stat sheet would leave you wondering why the Colts chose Allen over Fleener. Allen only had 16 receptions on 29 targets last season compared to Fleener’s 54 receptions on 85 targets. The drop off came a season after Allen had a career-high eight touchdown receptions in 2014.
Allen voiced his displeasure at times last season about not having a bigger part in the passing game, but when it was all said and done, his role in the other part of the offense is a significant reason why he’s still playing for Indianapolis. He was basically used as a sixth offensive lineman because that unit consistently struggled last season.
“At the end of the day, the tight end position encompasses a lot of things,” Allen said. “It’s blocking, route running, it’s catching. It’s coming from the backfield. It’s this, it’s that and I continue to say I want to be the best tight end. I want to do all those roles better than everyone else. I believe because I was devoted to becoming the best tight end.”
There’s very little doubt that Allen will have an increased role in coordinator Rob Chudzinski’s offense. Chudzinski took over during the middle of last season. Now he’s able to cater the offense to his liking, which will entail Allen as a blocker and a pass catcher.
“[Chudzinski] definitely spoke a little bit about the versatility of the tight ends,” Allen said. “When you have a guy who can hold up against some of the best pass rushers in the league, but also go out and go up against some of the best pass defenders then you have an edge on the opposition so to speak. That’s what he wants to create out of this (offense).”