ANDERSON, Ind. — There is a tendency with the Indianapolis Colts this season to look at the playoff loss in Baltimore a year ago and want to go further.
Even Coach Chuck Pagano has said that this year's motto is "Unfinished Business." That idea is fine with second-year tight end Dwayne Allen — at least to a point.
“That is perfect," said Allen. "That Ravens game, sitting there, great atmosphere, how lucky was I to be, were we to be, in the playoffs our first year with Coach Pagano. But we know it’s not going to be easy to get back there, so unfinished business is whenever we get our opportunity, if we get our opportunity to get back there, we have to do the things necessary to prolong our stay in the playoffs.”
Allen was more than lucky to get there. He played an integral part in getting there by starting all 16 games, blocking for his quarterback and sometimes lining up in the backfield. He caught about three passes a game for an average of 11.6 yards per catch and three touchdowns.
But he thinks the team focus needs to be much narrower in the beginning and more short-sighted as well.
“I wanted us to build on the success that we had last year," he said. "I know that’s kind of hard with all the turnover on the professional level, players leaving, coaches leaving, there’s a lot of turnover. But I believe that the young group that came in and the guys that are still here, we put down a strong foundation to build on for this year. That feeling that we had in Baltimore, watching Ray (Lewis) dance in the backfield, is a feeling that I don’t want to have this year. But I can’t set my sights on getting to the playoffs. My sights got to be set on the Raiders from day one. And as cliché as it sounds, I got to take it, we have to take it, week by week so that whenever it’s all said and done and it’s week 17, the playoffs are already there. Then we can set our sights on other things.”
He knows he needs to improve upon his rookie season and he knows that with a new offensive coordinator in Pep Hamilton he may get more opportunities to use any additional skills he develops. Part of that improvement began in a slightly unorthodox way.
“Man, (I did) a ton of yoga," said Allen. "It was something that I was just researching and I came across an old Colts player, his name is leaving me right now, but he does a ton of yoga and also Justin Snow does yoga and recommended it to me. So man I had probably over 100 classes of yoga and it’s helped out a ton. I feel more fluid in my routes, getting in and out of my stance. It’s definitely helped calm me down a little bit.
“It’s something that’s getting around the league. A lot of the guys hear about it initially, they hear hot yoga, ‘Woo too hot for me,’ and then they understand that it’s something that’s going to help their game and helpfully prolong (careers).”
Some of the improvements are more specific to needed skills.
"What goals I do have are working on my technique, hand, hat placement, pad leverage, my run after the catch and my protecting the ball," said Allen. "Those little things that are going to help me whenever we get out of training camp, no matter what role I have, I’m going to be able to do it at a high level.”
Sometimes Allen's role was to play the fullback position and either protect Andrew Luck or help carve out a hole for the running back. This year there are true fullback on the roster. Allen has a couple of thoughts about that.
"Do I like having fullbacks here, yes," he said. "Does that mean I won't be lining up in the backfield, no." He even carried the ball three times last season so he really did have the entire fullback experience.