Sunday, August 10, 2014
Ex-hoops player turning heads with Colts
By Mike Wells
ANDERSON, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was in the middle of the team’s offensive meeting the night before last week's preseason opener against the New York Jets when he tried to remind his players that playing in MetLife Stadium is no different than playing football in little league, middle school or high school.
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It’s just football. That was Hamilton's message.
Hamilton continued and asked all the players who played football growing up to raise their hands.
You’d think every offensive player in the meeting room would have raised his hand since they're in the NFL.
Wrong. And tight end Coby Fleener made sure to let Hamilton know.
Fleener got Hamilton’s attention and pointed to tight end Erik Swoope. This is the first time Swoope has ever played organized football. He played basketball at the University of Miami.
“I was caught off guard, it was an honest mistake,” Hamilton said. “Even so, that’s more of a reason that you have to commend Swoope and (tight ends) coach Alfredo Roberts for the progress that he’s made to get to this point where he was able to go out and give us a few good snaps in a pro football game. That was his first time of playing contact football.”
Swoope played five snaps and didn’t have a catch against the Jets, but the fact that he’s reached this point is a step in the right direction for him. Swoope didn’t play football growing up in Southern California because he was too big to play with his friends. He needed somebody to show him how to put pads on after the Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent in May.
“At the point of attack he was physical. He didn’t shy away from contact,” Hamilton said. “He didn’t have an opportunity to catch a pass, but there was a play where he released and he ran downfield and ran a seam route. He looked like he knew what he was doing.”
The Colts are set at tight end with Fleener, Dwayne Allen, Weslye Saunders and Jack Doyle, but Swoope is a prime candidate to be a practice squad player because he has the necessary tools to potentially play in the NFL.
“We’re still in the process of molding Swoope, but he has all the things that you can’t teach, and that’s amazing athleticism, phenomenal strength and balance and hand-eye coordination, and it’ll be fun to watch him grow and progress,” Hamilton said.