Indianapolis Colts: Wesley Saunders

INDIANAPOLIS -- A common phrase used by the Indianapolis Colts last season was: power running game.

They had do-everything quarterback Andrew Luck, but they insisted on a being a run-first team. The only sign of that working happened in their Week 3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Injuries and lack of running game from Trent Richardson and Donald Brown forced the Colts to basically become a no-huddle offensive team by the end of the season.

They started the season mixing in some two-back sets. They ended it basically using one-back, one-tight-end, three-receiver sets.

Luck
New season, new mind frame from offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

"We’re going to be a score-first team," Hamilton said. "We’re going to do whatever we need to do to score one more point than our opponent."

Don’t kid yourself; Hamilton won't allow Luck to drop back in the pocket and fling the ball downfield -- even if he does have plenty of weapons at his disposal -- 50 times per game. The Colts will still run the ball, which is why they have three backs they think will carry the load.

But as Hamilton said, it’s all about scoring more points than the opponent, and that likely will end up being with Luck doing what he does best: using his arm.

The Colts threw the ball 582 times and ran it 409 times last season.

"Our mentality has not changed; we have to be physical at the point of attack. We have to try and knock people off the ball and wear them down physically," Hamilton said. "We have to have a sense of balance and still have a physical mentality, make up going into games so we can wear our opponents down how we see fit."

Hamilton had an opportunity to leave the NFL to become the head coach at Vanderbilt, but he decided to return to the Colts because he believes in the product they have in the organization. He’s back for Year 2 as an NFL offensive coordinator, and instead of being forced to dig deep into the playbook to find plays to suit their offensive personnel, Hamilton should have a cupboard full of healthy players next season barring any setbacks with their return from injuries.

By Week 7 last season, the Colts were without tight end Dwayne Allen, guard Donald Thomas, running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Reggie Wayne for the season. Those players were replaced by Jack Doyle, Weslye Saunders, Hugh Thornton, Brown, Richardson, Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen.

No offense to those players, but that’s a drop-off for Hamilton, who at times made some questionable play calls to work with.

Things should be different this season for him and the Colts.

"Not only do we have some guys that are proven playmakers in the National Football League, but we have an opportunity to build on what we accomplished last year and hopefully take that next step," Hamilton said. "It’ll be great to have Reggie, Dwayne and all those guys available to see if we can go out and accomplish our ultimate goal.

"The toughest part [of last season] was making sure that we had the packages available to accommodate the personnel changes that were made from week to week. When I say personnel changes, I’m talking about the attrition, the attrition that we had to deal with. Other than that, it wasn’t tough. When you have Andrew Luck, that really gives you an ability to adapt to whatever the circumstances are and have a chance to be successful."
INDIANAPOLIS -- At some point in March, Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen will likely be medically cleared after having hip surgery in the fall.

Returning to the field -- when it happens -- will be a significant step for Allen, who said before last season he was one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

Allen
Much of the Colts' injury talk -- and rightfully so -- has surrounded receiver Reggie Wayne's recovery from a torn ACL at the age of 35, but Allen has significant value, too.

The Colts went into last season thinking they would have two of the league's up-and-coming tight ends in second-year players Allen and Coby Fleener to go with their other offensive weapons.

Allen wanted to build on his rookie season in which he started all 16 games and caught 45 passes for 521 yards and three touchdowns.

Those thoughts quickly changed in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders.

Allen injured his hip during the second half when he landed awkwardly after going up for a pass that Oakland's Kevin Burnett tipped.

Allen's injury left the Colts without stability at tight end outside of Fleener, who had to become a complete tight end and not just one who could catch passes. Allen excelled at blocking and catching the ball, which is why he started during his rookie season.

Justice Cunningham. Jack Doyle. Weslye Saunders. Dominique Jones.

Those are the tight ends not named Fleener who caught passes from Andrew Luck last season.

"This past season was very exciting from the standpoint of watching the guys go out there and play," Allen said. "Every week, not knowing what you're going to get on the field. The way that we just picked and plugged guys in and continued to have success is the highlight of the season. Of course, the low light was me not being able to play. That's a part of this game. Injuries happen. I was able to cope really quick and get over it and cheer those guys on."

Allen isn't talking about what he plans to do on the field. He simply wants to get back there first then he's taking a show-them rather than a talk-about-it approach because he knows that won't get him anywhere.

"I'm nowhere near I was and my goal in the offseason is not to get where I was, but to surpass that," he said. "With the increase in the range of motion in my hips, I should."

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