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Ex-Cat Tamme waiting to build on his breakout year

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Jacob Tamme ended his career at UK with 133 catches for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns. (UK Athletics) Jacob Tamme ended his career at UK with 133 catches for 1,417 yards and 11 touchdowns. (UK Athletics)

Jacob Tamme became a bit of a fantasy football legend this past year for the Indianapolis Colts.

Tamme entered the season with a career-high six catches for 47 yards and zero touchdowns. He finished the 2010 season with 67 catches, 631 yards and four touchdowns.

For those who were lucky enough to pick up Tamme before 2010 began, that's what you call a steal.

"I've heard that about 15,000 times, which is cool," said Tamme, who was in Lexington on Tuesday to speak at the annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Dinner at Southland Christian Church. "I didn't even know how the whole fantasy team thing worked. My brother, apparently, had me on his fantasy team since my rookie year, putting up zero points every week for years. He finally got rewarded with a couple of points there last year. He told me it was about time. It's a neat little side thing to have people interested in that."

Tamme didn't notice his real-world popularity pick up as much as his fantasy interest, telling reporters Tuesday that he's only noticed "a few" more jerseys around town with his name on the back.

"Most of them with my name on the back also have my name on their driver's license," Tamme said to the laughter of the media, "but there's a few that don't. It's a pretty neat thing."

But if Tamme isn't a household name yet, he was expected to be this season - if he ever gets a chance to play.

Like so many professional football players across the country, Tamme is waiting through an NFL lockout that has put America's most popular game on hold. Now a couple of months into the lockout with neither side close to budging, the uncertainty of the league is as high as ever and frustrations are teeming for just about everyone involved.

"I feel like I have very little control so I try not to get too bogged down in it," Tamme said. "I try to stay updated just so I can know what's going on, but I've kind of gone through phases where I've kind of read every single article and know what's going on and I go through a phase where I get really tired of it just like everyone else. It's just a situation where hopefully it gets resolved as soon as possible. I guess the bottom line is there's not a whole lot I can do other than get ready to play."

Tamme played the waiting game for his first two professional seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Saddled behind All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark, Tamme, arguably the most prolific tight end to ever put on a Kentucky uniform, was relegated to six career catches and specials-teams duty.

But when Clark went down with a season-ending injury this past season, Tamme was prepared to seize the opportunity. Reminiscent of his days at Commonwealth Stadium, Tamme became an instant pass-catching threat for the Colts and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

"I think I was really, really blessed to be on a great team and have a great guy like Dallas Clark teaching me," Tamme said. "I was able to learn for a couple years kind of the tricks of the trade and prepare for a time to step in there. I really tried to work hard every week to be ready like I was the starter. And I think that's just kind of the mentality that you have to have."

Although Clark will be back this season, Tamme has become too important and too popular to go back to the bench. While the lockout has prevented him from building on his best professional season at team facilities, Tamme isn't letting it hinder his development for an even bigger season in 2011.

Tamme said the Colts' players already have an offseason practice routine that they've stuck to on their own. With veterans like Manning and Clark in the offense, the philosophy and goals of the team aren't lost without the official tutelage of the coaches.

"A lot of guys are still getting together and working out just like we would be," Tamme said. "Whether it's lifting, running, doing drills, throwing and catching, doing all that kind of stuff, we just have to find places to do it, which are top secret, and just kind of get it done. So it's not too much different, it's just a little inconvenient."

Inconvenient, but not career restricting. Now that he's finally been given his chance, Tamme's not planning on letting a lockout prevent him from building on his breakout.

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