TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Jacob Tamme has always been a quick study.
He graduated from the University of Kentucky in three years, made a seamless transition from high school receiver to college tight end and wound up No. 2 among SEC tight ends in career receptions.
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Now Tamme is showing the Indianapolis Colts how adept he is on his feet.
“He's done a lot of the things we saw him doing in college, he's doing the things we've seen him do in practice and he's done it all well,” Coach Tony Dungy said.
The Colts figured Tamme would fit into their system.
They liked his speed, his route-running skills and his hands. They also liked the fact Tamme played in a similarly wide-open offense at Kentucky, and that he spent the past couple of years modeling his game after another Colts tight end, Dallas Clark.
So the Colts jumped at the chance to select Tamme in the fourth round of April's NFL Draft.
While some rookies are slow to pick up the nuances of new teammates and new systems, Tamme has shown no sign of struggling. He's played well enough, in fact, to keep himself in contention for a starting job in the Colts' offense.
Unlike most teams, the Colts' standard offense uses a one-back formation with two tight ends. One of those spots, barring injury, will go to Clark, set franchise records with 58 receptions and 11 TDs last season.
The fight for the other spot appears to be between Tamme and Gijon Robinson, who spent last season on the Colts' practice squad.
The numbers show the battle has essentially been a draw.
Robinson caught four passes for 39 yards in the Colts' pre-season opener against Washington and showed he could make acrobatic catches and block. Tamme starred in Saturday's 23-20 overtime loss to Carolina, catching five passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns — both from former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen.
“It was a blast, getting a chance to make some plays,” Tamme said. “That's all you can hope for. You've just got to keep building on it.”
Dungy isn't saying yet who has the edge, but the early results have reinforced a few perceptions.
Tamme's speed makes him a stronger downfield threat, while Robinson, who played at Division II Missouri Western State, has excelled over the middle and as a blocker because of his stockier build.
Neither has had an opportunity to catch passes from Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning in a live game and probably won't for at least another week. Manning had surgery in July to remove an infected bursa sac from his knee and is not expected to practice until next week.
“I'm just soaking in the whole offense, knowing what I've got and what's going well and what I still need to work on,” Tamme said. “I think everybody's taken a step up right now. They use the tight end here in a lot of different ways, and I've just got to continue to learn all that.”
■ Colts defensive back Michael Coe will be placed on injured reserve and will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on his left knee last week.
Browns receiver bummed
Browns Pro Bowl receiver Braylon Edwards was home Tuesday resting his stitched-up right foot, and the guy who put him there said he's in good spirits.
“He was cheering me up more than I was able to cheer him up,” said receiver Donte Stallworth, who inadvertently stepped on Edwards' heel Saturday night at the end of practice. “I was probably more hurt (emotionally) than he was.”
The accident could sideline Edwards for two pre-season games.
“It wasn't too pretty a moment,” Stallworth said. “He's a tough dude, because I would've passed out, woke up and passed out again probably a couple more times.”
Around the league
Giants: Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress took the field in pads Tuesday night for the first time since the Giants opened training camp last month. Burress has been sitting out with a sore right ankle.
Vikings: Safety Madieu Williams, signed to a six-year, $33 million free-agent contract after four seasons with Cincinnati, is expected to miss six weeks because of a neck injury.
Cardinals: Rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the team's top draft pick, was taken off the practice field on a cart after injuring his right ankle on Tuesday.
Dolphins: Miami cut kicker Jay Feely, one season after he set the team's single-season record for field-goal percentage.