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14 for '14 Number 9: Tight End Dwayne Allen

In the 14 days leading up to the Indianapolis Colts reporting for training camp on July 23, we will count down the 14 most important players to the Colts success in 2014. Today, we look at number 9, tight end Dwayne Allen.

Andy Lyons

For a guy who missed 15 games last year with an injury, doesn't this ranking seem pretty high considering the Colts still managed an 11-5 record and a playoff win without Dwayne Allen?  It would seem that way, but I still consider Allen to be a crucial part to what the Colts are trying to do and think he will have a huge impact this season.

In his rookie year, Allen was tremendous.  He caught 45 passes for 521 yards and 3 touchdowns, serving as a safety blanket of sorts for Andrew Luck and being a great weapon in the passing game.  His impact was felt just as much, if not moreso, in the running game, however, where he was a tremendous run blocker.

I have told people that I think the return of Allen could end up being the biggest "addition" for the team this offseason, and there's plenty of reason to believe that.  The run game struggled last year, but a large part of that wasn't always due to Trent Richardson but rather the offensive line, and getting a great run blocker like Allen back could prove to be huge for Richardson and the other running backs.  Furthermore, Allen will serve as a great weapon for Andrew Luck, and we even saw that last year with the only catch Allen made that went for 20 yards and a touchdown.  He was well on his way toward developing into a top NFL tight end after his rookie season and the hope is that he'll step back into that progression this year.

Dwayne Allen is incredibly important to the offense, and that's the one thing I think people misunderstood the most when criticizing Pep Hamilton early on in the season - he had big plans for Allen and then he suddenly was forced to adapt those plans.  Allen was going to factor into almost everything the Colts did whether it be in the passing game or in the running game, and even would likely have seen some time at fullback.  Additionally, Pep Hamilton's two tight end base offense wouldn't have seemed near as ill-suited if the Colts would have had a tight end duo of Allen and Coby Fleener.  Fleener had a great year last year, but for the offense to function at it's best it needs two guys, and the Colts have that - or at least they will this year.

Dwayne Allen is a great player and he is a crucial part to the Colts offense.  Unfortunately, he missed almost the entire 2013 season due to injury, but he's coming back in 2014 and that could mean big things from the offense.  The Colts have a very good tight end in Allen and he could be a key player in 2014.  If everything goes as is expected and if Allen continues to build on his fantastic 2012 season, there's zero doubt that Allen will be one of the biggest impact players for the Colts in 2014.

Check out our list counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts' success in 2014:

14. Pat McAfee, punter

13. Anthony Castonzo, left tackle

12. Greg Toler, cornerback

11. Reggie Wayne, wide receiver

10. Cory Redding, defensive lineman

9. Dwayne Allen, tight end