Tuesday, October 27, 2009
BY KATHLEEN NELSON
October 22, 2009
Colts tight end Dallas Clark is on a tear. Clark ranks seventh overall and first among tight ends in yardage, 441, and sixth overall and first among tight ends in receptions, with 35. He's on pace to break NFL season records for tight ends in receiving yards, 1,290, set by Kellen Winslow in 1980, and receptions, 102, by Tony Gonzalez in 2004.
The most obvious conclusion to draw is that after more than six seasons, Clark's role has changed in the Colts offense. Clark humbly disagrees, saying the scheme doesn't include more plays designed for the tight end this year.
"Statistically, it looks like it has, but really I don't feel it has," Clark told reporters in St. Louis on a teleconference. Noting that he played his first six years with wide receivers Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison, Clark added, "When you have those guys, you don't learn how to ask for the ball very much. You know you're not going to get it."
Clark acknowledged that quarterback Peyton Manning "has looked to me a couple more times this year than years past. But if in the next five weeks they want me to block and stay in and get some protection or run some safeties off so Reggie can get a ton of balls, I don't have a problem with that."
Coach Jim Caldwell said he looked to Clark and Wayne to provide leadership for the Colts' young receivers, not necessarily for new wrinkles in the offense.
"He and Reggie are like elder statesmen, so he's carrying a little bit more load in that regard," Caldwell said on a conference call Wednesday. "But he's been the same, effective guy since he arrived here."