Sometimes you hear of big football players who do ballet or take tumbling classes in their spare time to keep in prime athletic shape. Then there are those players who take up more stereotypically manly hobbies, and it just makes more sense. Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark is an example of the latter.
Clark, all 6-foot-5, 311 pounds of him, is a woodworker. He’s pretty good at it, too — at least good enough to sell some of the stuff he makes. Clark said it’s “nothing expensive or anything like that,” but it’s enough to open the door to a life after football.
“It’s just something I enjoy doing,” he said. “It’s something that I’ll have fun doing after I’m done playing.”
It may be awhile before Clark’s playing days are over. At 25 years old, he’s widely seen as the one of the key pieces for the Colts’ resurgent offensive line going forward. He made four starts and played in 12 games this past season for an offensive line that went five straight games without allowing a sack on star quarterback Andrew Luck. When he appeared on “The Dan Patrick Show” on 1070 The Fan in January, Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Clark is at a “prove-it” point in his career. Clark will continue to prove his worth in what will likely be a backup role as all five offensive line starters are returning.
Working with the hands runs in Clark’s family. His grandfather was a welder, and his father was a carpenter. Clark said his father taught him some of the basics with tools and showed him “some tricks here and there.”
“We definitely have a bunch of crafty people in my family, I’d say, so I think that’s where the interest sparks from,” he said.
Most of what Clark has learned about woodworking, though, has come from reading woodworking books and watching videos on YouTube. Clark started his woodworking hobby in college at Texas Tech University, but the NFL is a different game, literally.
It’s difficult as a professional athlete with nearly unfathomable time commitments during the season to keep up with woodworking. Clark has a shop in his garage where he can do some work, but there’s hardly any time for a commitment. There’s more flexibility in the offseason, but even then, it’s not something Clark can give a lot of time to. Between his offseason training in Indianapolis and going back home to Texas, there are still some considerable limitations on what he can do.
But that’s what retirement is for. Along with perhaps ramping up his hobby when football is no longer front and center, Clark said he could even see himself going to work in a saw mill when the time comes.
The Colts have made a few moves along the offensive line this offseason that have put Le’Raven Clark squarely on the roster bubble heading into training camp.
Most of general manager Chris Ballard’s offseason moves focused on the interior of the offensive line by re-signing Jack Mewhort, drafting Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, and inking Matt Slauson to a deal in free agency. However, Ballard also added a veteran tackle that will likely be ahead of Clark on the Colts’ offensive tackle depth chart in Austin Howard.
I would expect Howard to start at right tackle on the opposite side of Anthony Castonzo. That leaves Clark without a clear path to a starting job after starting eight games at right tackle and right guard for the Colts over the past two seasons.
Clark hasn’t been very impressive when he’s been able to get some playing time in Indianapolis as he’s been a major part of the Colts’ offensive line issues.
Clark still has two years left on his rookie contract after being selected in the third round of the 2016 draft, and he would cost the Colts about $550,000 in dead cap money if they cut him this offseason according to Spotrac. But it looks like many players from that draft class are in danger of losing their jobs including T.J. Green and Hassan Ridgeway.
Clark’s ability to play both tackle and guard has made him a useful rotational lineman over his first two NFL seasons, but he hasn’t played at a high enough level to deserve a roster spot.
With the multitude of guards and tackles on Colts’ roster, I don’t expect Clark to stick around in Indianapolis this season.
Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark got the start at left tackle in Week 2 when it was revealed Anthony Castonzo suffered a setback with his hamstring injury.
Though Clark had a solid preseason, he was inactive Week 1 and it wasn’t clear how he might hold up against Ryan Kerrigan and the Redskins pass rush.
He answered the call admirably by giving the Colts a strong performance on the blind side in protecting quarterback Andrew Luck.
“A lot of heart, a lot of – it’s hard to go into Washington and play on the road and he did a great job,” said offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni. “He truly showed the next man up mentality. It’s as if it didn’t faze him. I know he has played a lot of football. So it was just great to see him come into the game and not miss a beat.”
Clark survived the roster cuts on Sept. 1 but then was named inactive for the season opener. After Castonzo suffered his hamstring setback in Week 2, he was called upon to deliver on the offensive line.
The third-year offensive tackle proved he can provide solid depth and even though he did allow a sack, he’s shown he can step in if the Colts need him at left tackle.
Sirianni also gave some credit to Clark’s supporting cast, who helped him get ready for the matchup with the Redskins.
“Le’Raven is playing left tackle so that’s a lot on him. So I thought he did a great job and Coach Guge (Dave DeGuglielmo) and Coach (Bobby) Johnson did a great job preparing him,” Sirianni said. “I think Coach Guge and Coach Johnson prepped him to be in that position and really prepared, helped him prepare as well as the other offensive linemen, especially our veteran offensive linemen like Matt Slauson and Anthony (Castonzo).”
It isn’t clear yet if Castonzo will be able to play in Week 3, but Clark will be waiting in the wings if he’s called upon again.