Monday, October 08, 2007

Dallas Clark steps up

By John Oehser

September 30, 2007

In a New Role, Colts Tight End Clark Continues to Excel

INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe, some day, it will be different.

Maybe, Colts tight end Dallas Clark said, some day scoring touchdowns in the NFL will be so routine that he doesn’t worry about retrieving a ball from the stands, and that everyone doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

That day isn’t here yet.

And even though the argument could be made that it’s getting closer – much closer – by the week, the fifth-year veteran won’t be among those making the argument.

“Hopefully, I get to the point where it’s like (Colts wide receiver) Marv (Harrison) and those guys where it’s old hat,” Clark said, whose two touchdown receptions keyed a 28-point second- and third-quarter surge as the Colts rallied past the Denver Broncos for a 38-20 victory in the RCA Dome Sunday afternoon.

“It hasn’t gotten like that. I haven’t caught enough yet where it’s every other day. I’m enjoying them right now. Hopefully, I get to the point where if it goes in the stands I’m not going to sit there like a three-year old and ask him for it back.”

The incident to which Clark referred came after a first-half touchdown.

On the play, Clark – the Colts’ 2003 first-round draft selection from the University of Iowa – made a diving, nine-yard reception.

He spiked the ball in the end zone.

One problem.

When it bounced, it went into the stands.

Clark, who saves all of his touchdown balls, found himself in what he said was the embarrassing situation of asking for the ball back.

He did, and the fans who caught it, returned it.

“I didn’t really know, ‘Do I have the right to ask for it back?’’’ Clark said. “If he starts arguing, are we going to sit there the whole game? I was very happy that he gave it back and I was able to give him another ball after the game. It was very nice. I appreciated that.

“I’m sorry he didn’t get the touchdown ball, but he gets a replacement.”

Clark on Sunday had bigger concerns. He spent much of the game playing as the outside receiver in the Colts’ offense, a spot usually played by eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison.

“I was outside a lot, which I wasn’t expecting coming into the game,” Clark said. “I knew we were going to try it a bit to see how they adjusted to it. With some injuries and stuff like that, I think we wanted to go back to it and see how well it worked. We were able to get some things going. It was fun being out there. I wasn’t totally comfortable out there.

“Hopefully, we don’t make that a habit. The slot’s a lot easier.”

Clark, who caught six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns – all team-highs Sunday – had another new experience because of the new position. He was covered at least part of the game by Broncos All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey.

On one play in the third quarter – 3rd-and-3 from the Colts 47 – Clark beat Bailey on a 27-yard gain down the right sideline.

Clark said he wasn’t sure when the time would come when he would consider beating a player such as Bailey – and catching touchdown passes routine – but he said the time wasn’t now. At least not yet.

“It’s way early,” Clark said. “I’m just trying to do my job. Fortunately, I’m getting some touchdowns here and there. I’m so far from that. I’m enjoying it. I’m trying to work hard to get better every day. I’ve been producing some numbers here lately. I just try to keep going.

“If we need outlets, hopefully, I’m there, and we just keep going. It’s about moving the chains, making first downs and making plays, which is what we did today.”

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