If you've been reading my writing for any length of time, you probably know how huge I think it is that tight end Dwayne Allen is coming back. I've said for months that his return will be the biggest addition for the Colts this year.
The tight end missed pretty much all of his sophomore season with an injury, with his only game played coming in week one last year against the Raiders, where he caught one pass for 20 yards and a touchdown. But his impact goes way beyond just that, and all Colts fans know how good Allen can be and how huge of a role in the offense he will have.
National media are taking notice. In an article this morning about the top 50 breakout candidates for 2014 (insider piece), ESPN's Mike Sando ranked Allen number one, writing:
1. Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts. Allen has already shown ability as a blocker and runner; a season-ending hip injury was what held him back in 2013, and there are apparently no limitations now. Pairing a player as talented as Allen with a quarterback as talented as Andrew Luck makes Allen a safe breakout bet.
Allen caught 45 passes for 521 yards and 3 touchdowns in his rookie season in 2012, playing in all 16 games. He's a great receiving threat for Andrew Luck, but more than that he's a terrific blocker. He's an all-around good tight end, being able to catch passes, block as a tight end, and play fullback. Those Colts fans who complained about Pep Hamilton last year (and he did struggle some) need to remember that he lost a core piece of his offense after week one of his first season of being an NFL coordinator. The offense is going to look different with Allen, and the offense is going to be much, much better with Allen.
The tight end wasn't the only Colt on Sando's list, however. Outside linebacker Bjoern Werner also made it, checking in at number 37. Writes Sando:
37. Bjoern Werner, OLB, Indianapolis Colts. Werner has shown positive signs during preseason after a so-so rookie year. His playing time should increase while Robert Mathis serves a four-game suspension.
Werner is sure to have a better season than last year, when he managed just 2.5 sacks, and he has been very impressive in training camp and preseason. As Sando noted he'll be starting the first four games with Mathis out, and then even after Mathis returns Werner will get plenty of chances. He should have a much better year, and hopes are high for him after what we've seen in preseason.
I think Sando got the two Colts on this list most likely to break out right, but any other candidates you think could have a breakout year for the Colts?