Monday, February 08, 2010

Colts TE Tom Santi impresses Peyton Manning

Nashville's Tom Santi misses out on a Super chance

Colts tight end won't play against the Saints because of injury

By Jim Wyatt

February 4, 2010

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Tom Santi grew up a Titans fan. He was in the stadium for the Music City Miracle, celebrating the big playoff victory with family and friends.

Then the Colts drafted him, and everything changed.

Santi, a tight end from Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy and the University of Virginia, is dealing with all kinds of emotions this week.

He’s here with the Colts as they prepare for Super Bowl XLIV against the Saints, taking part in all the festivities and preparations.

But he won’t play on Sunday. His second NFL season was cut short because of a back injury. Still, he has a chance to win a Super Bowl ring.

“That would be pretty cool,’’ Santi said. “But I have to admit it’s kind of a weird feeling for me. It is kind of rough, really. Obviously I am elated that our team has done as well and we got here. This whole experience has been great. But it is tough to know you’re not going to be able to play. It’s just bad timing.’’

Santi, regarded as a solid blocker, continued to make strides as a pass-catcher this season before he was placed on injured reserve. He had eight catches for 107 yards, including a six-catch, 80-yard game against the Ravens.

Now he wants to prove that he can stay healthy. Santi had 10 catches in 2008 before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve.

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has seen enough of Santi to be impressed, however.

“He’s had some injury issues, but I think he has a lot of potential,’’ Manning said. “He is a big, strong tight end who can run. He’s made a lot of plays for us.

“Tom is a good combination of some Dallas Clark skills with the ability to be a point-of-attack blocking tight end. Hopefully he can get healthy this offseason and could be a contributor for us next year.’’

Santi’s parents Mike and Betty Ann will make the trip to Sun Life Stadium along with his sisters Lauren and Annie. The family still has a home in Green Hills, and Santi said he plans to spend plenty of time in Nashville this offseason.

He just hopes to get back to the Super Bowl — and to be able to play in it.

“I feel like I have definitely learned a lot from last two years,’’ he said. “I have been brought along watching Peyton and the older guys, watched Dallas and the way he works on his craft. It has definitely helped.

“My biggest thing is definitely trying to get rid of the injury bug and find a way to get healthy.’’

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