By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — The first defender went high, and that was a fatal mistake.
Dwayne Allen lowered his head, slipping out of Oakland cornerback Mike Jenkins' grasp and bulling ahead inside the 5-yard line. At about the 2, Raiders linebacker Kevin Burnett made a last-ditch effort to bring the Indianapolis Colts tight end to the ground.
Instead, Burnett received a free ride into the end zone.
The 20-yard touchdown catch midway through the second quarter Sunday was the latest example of the nightmares Allen's blend of power and athleticism presents for opposing defenders. But it also proved to be his only reception of the game.
On the next Indianapolis possession, the second-year tight end landed awkwardly after leaping for a pass and immediately grabbed at his hip. He tried to remain in the game — and was even targeted again later on the drive — but team doctors eventually shut him down.
The extent of the injury remains unclear, but Allen hopes it won't keep him out of this weekend's game against Miami. He didn't participate in practice for the second consecutive day on Thursday but was optimistic earlier in the afternoon about his chances.
Allen made it clear his preference is to play against the Dolphins but said the final decision will be in the hands of the team's medical staff and head coach Chuck Pagano.
"I'm not going to be running around here with 'Operation Patient' shirts or anything like that," Allen said, referencing Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III's infamous t-shirt during his preseason rehabilitation. "But I'm very patient. I believe in the process. The process worked well with my foot. I was able to get to Game 1. I'm sure it's going to work well with this."
Allen hurt his foot during an evening training camp practice on Aug. 6 at Anderson University. The injury sidelined him for the rest of the preseason, but he was able to play in the regular season opener.
His status is not the only health question mark as the Colts prepare to face the 1-0 Dolphins. Inside linebackers Kavell Conner (ankle) and Jerrell Freeman (quad) also did not practice Thursday, and outside linebacker Erik Walden (hamstring) was limited.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer has fully participated the past two days and appears ready to return to his starting role after missing the Raiders game while recovering from a concussion. Kelvin Sheppard likely would make his second straight start at the other inside spot if Conner and Freeman are unable to play against Miami.
Rookie Bjoern Werner likely would start in place of Walden.
Allen's absence could be felt most of all, however, especially in light of owner Jim Irsay's tweet on Wednesday demanding better protection for Andrew Luck. The second-year quarterback was sacked four times against the Raiders and hit a total of eight.
Allen is confident the Colts can get their protection issues ironed out and keep Luck upright this week, even against a fierce Dolphins pass rush led by defensive end Cameron Wake.
"I feel week-by-week our communication is going to get better," he said. "It was just a communication thing out there this weekend that we obviously didn't do well since Andrew was sacked four times and hit eight. Mr. Irsay said it best, our priority is to protect Andrew. That's what we're going to do going forward."