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Utecht Rounding Out His Game

cg-1.jpg  Ben Utecht figures that it’s possible.  In the NFL, Utecht said, there is always a need for a prototypical tight end – mainly, he said, because they’re very difficult to find.  A player who can run, catch and block.  A player first and foremost, who can do all of the above with almost-equal effectiveness.  Utecht, who is entering his fourth NFL season – all of them with the Colts – said such a player is invaluable to an NFL team.  He doesn’t really consider himself such a player. Not yet.  But he said he might be and he that it might happen relatively soon.

“I really think I have the potential to be that,” Utecht said recently to the team’s website during the team’s summer-school sessions, which concluded June 14 at the Colts’ Training Facility.  Utecht, who originally signed with the Colts as a free agent shortly after the 2004 NFL Draft, said he proved he possessed at least part of the equation last season.   In his first full season as a starter, Utecht caught 37 passes for 377 yards and no touchdowns. 

“I grew up being a receiver,” said Utecht, who caught 83 passes for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns at Minnesota. “I went to college as a receiver.  That always has been something I feel very comfortable doing – catching the ball.”  But he also said he wants to be more.  “I really want to become a better blocker,” Utecht said.  “I want to become a better point-of-attack guy so that I know they have the confidence in every situation to run the ball to my side, because not only can I get out and catch the ball but I can also be a dominant blocker.  “Blocking is a very important part of being a tight end in the NFL, and it’s something I definitely need to solidify myself in.”

Utecht said he has a confidence entering this season he hasn’t really had in three previous NFL seasons.  It’s a confidence, he says, that comes from experience.  After signing with the Colts in 2004, missed the entire 2004 season with a sports hernia injury.  He then sustained a rib injury in Week 2 of the 2005 season, an injury he said cost him momentum.  He played 12 games in 2005, starting twice, but catching just three passes for 59 yards.  Last season, he missed just one of a possible 20 games for the Super Bowl XLI champions, which he said is why entering the 2007 season he feels “really comfortable in the offense.”

“This will be my first year with a full year of experience – and what a great year of experience.  I really think it’s going to just be a different year for me – hopefully it will be even more of a breakout year for me.  It was such a blessing to be a starter on that team last year, to be put in a lot of positions to make plays.  Throughout my entire college career, I never had a chance to catch 40 balls.  “To do that here, with one of the greatest quarterbacks (Peyton Manning) to have played, is a privilege.” 

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