INDIANAPOLIS — Dwayne Allen is finally getting his wish.
Andrew Luck is looking his way a little more often, and the tight ends suddenly have a more prominent role in the Indianapolis Colts’ offense. From the sound of it, it’s likely to stay that way.
“We know we want to be able to attack defenses in multiple ways and that means wide receivers catching balls, the tight ends and the running backs, and be able to utilize everybody,” Luck said Wednesday after targeting tight ends more often in last weekend’s opener.
The Colts (0-1) remain quiet when asked if the use of Allen and Jack Doyle was more by design or merely a function of something Detroit did.
But as coordinator Rob Chudzinski puts his stamp on Indy’s revamped offense, it’s clear his tight end roots are taking hold.
Last season, when Luck was under heavy pressure and missed nine games with injuries, Indy’s top three tight ends — Allen, Coby Fleener and Doyle — combined for 82 catches, 672 yards and five touchdowns.
Last week, Allen and Doyle were targeted 10 times. Allen had four catches for 53 yards and one TD, while Doyle had three receptions for 35 yards and two TDs.
“My role is that I’m a pass blocker and a run blocker when they need me to block, and I’m a pass catcher when they need me to be a pass catcher,” Allen said. “There are moments during the game where you’re asked to do different jobs, and whenever you’re called on, you just have to do them.”
A year ago, Allen pleaded politely, publicly that he wanted to help the team more. Yet Fleener continued to get more chances.
That started changing in March when the Colts defied conventional wisdom by re-signing Allen for four years and $29.4 million, letting Fleener leave in free agency. During training camp and the preseason, the Colts admittedly kept their playbook largely under wraps.
On Sunday, the Colts came out relying on the run and short routes. As the game progressed, Luck started taking more shots downfield and the tight ends wound up scoring the last three touchdowns. Doyle’s 6-yard catch with 37 seconds left gave Indy a short-lived 35-34 lead.
“It was fun,” said Doyle, an Indianapolis native who started his career in Tennessee as an undrafted free agent. “When the ball comes your way you try to catch it. (I’m) just trying to do my job and the ball happened to find my way.”
This week, at Denver (1-0), Allen and Doyle again will play crucial parts.
While the defending Super Bowl champs no longer have Peyton Manning running the show, they still possess one of the league’s top defenses.
And big-hitting Pro Bowlers such as Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are eager to harass Luck, who sustained a season-ending lacerated kidney last season against the Broncos.
One possible way to slow down them down is exploiting the middle of the field with athletic players such as Allen and Doyle.
The Colts aren’t dropping any hints about their game plan, though both promise to be ready. Indy expects nothing less.
“We have to protect, we have to block and we have to protect and communicate that (Luck) doesn’t take any unnecessary hits,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “That’s our job as an offense. That’s the job of the offensive linemen, the backs and the tight ends to try to make sure that doesn’t happen.”