The Falcons added tight end Jacob Tamme in free agency to help shore up a questionable position with a steady veteran presence. Tamme started his career in Indianapolis after being selected by the Colts in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and he went to Denver in 2012, accompanying quarterback Peyton Manning.
In both Indianapolis and Denver, Tamme has been a part of some very successful teams. In fact, Tamme has only experienced a losing season one year, in 2011, when the Colts went 2-14 with Manning sidelined for the year with a neck injury.
Tamme said that the energy on the practice field in Atlanta is some of the best he's experienced in his career.
"I think we just had a really good minicamp," Tamme said. "Lots of energy--some of the best energy and tempo that I've been around in the offseason, so I'm really excited."
The tight end position is a bigger factor in Kyle Shanahan's scheme than it maybe has been in Atlanta in recent memory, in terms of both blocking and receiving. All of the tight ends appear to be catching on, but at the same time, coming into a new system has its challenges, especially when you're also adapting to the chemistry of a new team.
Tamme, however, embraces the challenge. Tamme said that the process has been both refreshing and fun.
"I don't know about easy. I think it's been really good for me," Tamme said. "It's been refreshing to see some new stuff, learn new concepts, get plugged in different places, and it's fun. It's fun."
As a matter of fact, for Tamme, these expectations for the tight end position are the things he enjoys about this role.
"That's what I love about the position of tight end--being able to move around, doing multiple things, getting in there and putting your face in the run game, being able to get out wide and catch passes--doing all that different stuff, and a tight end has an ability to do that in this offense," Tamme said.
There have been times in Tamme's career when he has really been a huge factor in his team's success. In 2010, Tamme assumed starting duties after Dallas Clark suffered a wrist injury that ended his season, and Tamme finished the year with 631 receiving yards and four touchdowns while also earning a +7.3 grade from Pro Football Focus for his overall performance that season. In 2012, Tamme's 555 receiving yards and two touchdowns helped the Broncos win the division and finish the regular season 13-3.
With the new offensive scheme's focus on the tight end position, there's an opportunity for Tamme to contribute significantly for the Falcons this season, and he's looking forward to that.
"Me personally, I feel like it's a great opportunity to step up and be ready to make plays for us in any given game, whatever the situation calls for, that's what I'm going to try to be ready to do," Tamme said.
Peyton Manning is generally accepted to be one of the greats at the quarterback position, and as Tamme looked toward free agency, he knew his options were limited in terms of finding a team with a comparable quarterback.
Matt Ryan has also had a lot of success in his career, and maintained quality statistics even as the team struggled over the past two seasons. His leadership is often praised by teammates and coaches alike. Tamme, who should have some idea of how a winning quarterback operates after so many years spent with Manning, sees those qualities in Ryan.
"Hard for me to go anywhere and not feel like I was falling off a cliff, having been around Peyton my whole career so far," Tamme said. "So this is one of the four or five, six places where you could come and not feel like that. You can feel like you're stepping into a guy who not only can throw the ball, but he has all those characteristics you want in a quarterback, from the leadership standpoint, from how guys listen to him when he's talking in the huddle or in the meeting, and that's the kind of stuff that I think winning quarterbacks in this league have, and Matt has that, so that's exciting."