Wrist surgery ends season for Colts TE Clark

The number of go-to targets for Peyton Manning is shrinking.

Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark was put on injured reserve Friday and will have season-ending wrist surgery. Clark said he met with three surgeons before the decision and plans to return next year for a ninth season.

"It's unfortunate, but it's been confirmed that surgery is necessary to repair the injury to my wrist," Clark said in a statement released by the team. "I look forward to supporting my teammates the rest of this season and rehabilitating my wrist back to full strength for next season."

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The Colts have had many injuries, but the loss of tight end Dallas Clark is easily the worst. Clark was the most important player on the Colts offense, outside of Peyton Manning. **More ...**

Clark ranks third on the team with 37 catches for 347 yards after catching 100 passes for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, when he made the All-Pro team.

The Colts did not say how or when Clark was hurt, but he appeared to grab at his left wrist during a play in the Oct. 17 win at Washington.

The Colts don't have much depth behind Clark. There are three other tight ends on the roster, including rookie Brody Eldridge (three catches for 23 yards). The others, Jacob Tamme and Justin Snow, play mostly on special teams. The Colts, who do not play until Nov. 1 at home against the Houston Texans, re-signed tight end Gijon Robinson on Wednesday.

Just a few weeks ago, the Colts had a full arsenal at receiver and tight end. Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon are still available, but now Clark is gone and Austin Collie had thumb surgery this week.

The team said a timeframe for Collie's return hadn't been established, but a source with knowledge of the situation told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that the receiver will be out at least two weeks. Receiver Anthony Gonzalez has also been recovering from a high ankle sprain.

Clark, 31, and Manning have developed into one of the most prolific quarterback-tight end combinations in NFL history. Earlier this season, the two connected on their 44th touchdown pass, second only to Drew Bledsoe and Ben Coates (45).

Clark, the 24th overall pick out of Iowa in 2003, signed a six-year, $36 million contract in 2008 and has been worth every penny to the Colts. He's fast enough to burn defenses daring to cover him with a linebacker -- he's had two 80-yard touchdown catches in his career -- agile enough to make circus catches and shifty enough to fake out the secondary.

The past two seasons, he had 177 receptions, produced the first 1,000-yard season of his career and also made the Pro Bowl after becoming the second tight end to haul in 100 catches in a season.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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