Dwayne Allen, who posted the highest Pro Football Focus grade of any rookie tight end in the seven seasons since they began keeping track, had always been a durable player before a hip injury in training camp caused him to miss all of his second season.
Now that he’s back, a reporter asked him if he still has any question marks about the hip that sidelined him in 2013. “I don’t notice it at all,” Allen said, “but if you want to have a dance-off Shakira style we can.” Heh. Dwayne’s hips don’t lie… (Here the song to which Allen was referring, for those who didn’t recognize his reference). That would have been one strange dance-off, but it’s great to see he’s doing well.
After this week’s mandatory minicamp practices, the players will have some time off before training camp. Allen says he intends to do a better job of getting his body ready for the grueling practices ahead this summer. “The month off, the month that we have after minicamp, is going to be me fine-tuning my body, really getting into the best shape I possibly can,” Allen said. “Last year, didn’t quite do as good of a job as I needed to. So this year, really grinding over the next four weeks or so and getting ready to have an exciting camp.”
After missing last season, this essentially is Dwayne Allen’s second year, and, if his first is any indication (and provided he doesn’t have any setbacks), defenses will have to watch out for Number 83 this fall.
Meanwhile, the media asked three times about the offense yesterday, although some of it was more about Andrew Luck’s progress in the system. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that at no time did Pagano or the players attempt to steer the conversation toward ‘establishing the run,’ as they seemed to do so often in the recent past.
I’m not saying that running is irrelevant – it does matter, even in today’s pass-oriented NFL. However, fans might be relieved not to hear some of the over emphasis on the subject that clouded the last offseason, and, as many believe, lead to several instances of playing from behind in 2013.
Andrew Luck, when asked what the next level is for the offense (and keep in mind, in stable situations, players will echo the sentiments of their coaches), said, “Consistency. Consistency in practice, consistency in games. We’ve shown that we can do some good things and we’ve shown that we look like imbeciles sometimes out there. Obviously each year is completely different than the next or the previous but if we can consistently play well, that would be good.” Yeah, nobody wants to look like an imbecile. Sometimes Luck’s answers are gems.
Allen faced a similar version of the question and talked about wanting to gain the upper hand from the outset. “Being able to dictate the game always, from start to finish,” he said. “I remember early on last season we kept having those late starts or not getting off to a fast enough start offensively and having to rely on the defense a lot. So this year I’m hoping that offensively we’re able to dictate the game whenever, whether it’s the start, the middle, the end. Whenever the ball’s in our hands, we control the game.”
Are you sensing a theme yet? The question for Pagano was more about Luck’s growth as far as getting the offense in the right situation and diagnosing things at the line of scrimmage before each play. Last year, this might have led to talk of how establishing the run will help. “He does a phenomenal job, has done a phenomenal job,” Pagano said of his third year quarterback, “but we’ve still got some things to clean up in that area as far as re-IDing, and getting the line going the right way and getting everybody on the same page. Again, if you asked him he’d probably sit here for 20 minutes and list a laundry list of things for you.” Sounds encouraging.
Remember back in May, Pep Hamilton showed the early signs of a new focus for the offense – one that was music to the ears of many Colts fans – when he said they want to be a “score-first offense.” We haven’t heard the “run first” line since. That’s not to say this team doesn’t want to be able to line up and bulldoze people, but just imagine them doing so with the lead.
Score first…(daydreams about watching Luck and his various weapons thrashing an opposing secondary)…just 82 more days until the real thing.
All quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.