Thursday, November 12, 2009
By Nate Davis
November 11, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS -- Can Colts TE Dallas Clark get a little respect?
Maybe a lot of respect?
With Tony Gonzalez now in the NFC and Houston's Owen Daniels done for the season with a knee injury, it seems only an injury of his own can keep Clark from finally getting his first Pro Bowl ticket.
But the more germane question might be this: Is Clark now the premier player at his position in the NFL?
Clark leads all tight ends with 60 catches, 16 more than Dallas' Jason Witten, who is second on the list. Clark tops the group with 703 receiving yards, 113 more than San Diego's Antonio Gates, who ranks second and will probably join Clark on the AFC Pro Bowl roster.
Clark's three receptions of 40+ yards illustrate his big-play ability; outside of Daniels (2), no other tight end has more than one catch of at least 40 yards. But Clark also gets the tough, drive-extending yards -- he and Gates pace tight ends with 30 grabs that resulted in first downs.
Not enough evidence?
Clark tied Marvin Harrison's franchise record with 14 catches (119 yards) in Sunday's 20-17 win over the AFC South rival Texans. Clark finished one grab shy of tying Witten and Kellen Winslow (the original) for the single-game record for a tight end.
Afterward a modest Clark, who found seams in Houston's coverage all day, said: "It was kind of one of those things that you try and take advantage of things that are given us."
Clark continues to give the Colts plenty, effectively masking the departure of Harrison and absence of injured No. 2 WR Anthony Gonzalez by continually getting open and giving QB Peyton Manning a go-to option outside of No. 1 WR Reggie Wayne and youngsters Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon.
And Clark only seems to be getting better coming off what seemed to be a career year in 2008 (77 catches, 848 yards).
"He's been playing well all year," says Colts coach Jim Caldwell.
Well enough to finally get that Pro Bowl bid -- unless the currently unbeaten Colts are barred from the All-Star exhibition because they're busy preparing for Super Bowl XLIV on the following Sunday.