Colts RB Donald Brown Looking Forward to Off-season Program
INDIANAPOLIS – Donald Brown knows there's work to be done.
But Brown, the Colts' first-round selection in the 2009 NFL Draft, said late this past season he doesn't mind that that's true, and certainly doesn't mind that there is much he must do to improve to reach the potential he showed early last season and in college.
Not only does Brown say he doesn't mind.
He's looking forward to it.
Toward that end, Brown – who played running back at the University of Connecticut – said he will approach the coming off-season conditioning program with the same approach that made him one of college football's elite rushers, that made him a dynamic rookie this past season.
He'll approach it seriously. He'll approach it enthusiastically.
And he'll definitely have a solid idea of what needs to be accomplished.
"You definitely need a plan, and being around some of these vets, you get a clear idea of what you need to work on," Brown said late this past season, shortly before playing all three post-season games to help the Colts win a second AFC Championship in the past four seasons.
"Just having another year under my belt is going to help. Experience is one of the biggest things that sets people apart."
That was Brown's reputation entering the NFL last off-season – that of not only a player with talent to be college football's lone 2,000-yard rusher in 2008, but of a tireless worker, a guy who had taken his talent and turned himself into an NFL player.
"That's the way I've always been," he said. "I just want to work hard and try to help the team any way possible."
He parlayed that work ethic into a chance in the NFL, where he made an impact as a rookie.
Brown, who rushed for 3,800 yards and 33 touchdowns in three seasons at UConn before foregoing his senior season, played 11 games as a rookie, starting once and rushing for 281 yards and three touchdowns on 78 carries. He spent much of the season learning the Colts' offense, playing a key role as a reserve behind former Pro Bowl running back Joseph Addai.
Brown also caught 11 passes for 169 yards, catching a key 72-yard pass that helped set up a touchdown in a key early-season victory at Arizona.
The long reception against Arizona typified what Brown brought to the offense at times this past season – a big-play, breakaway element that gave the Colts a chance to score from anywhere on the field.
Brown also scored three rushing touchdowns this past season, one of which was a critical 15-yard run in a tight, 27-23, prime-time victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 2.
A month later, in a victory over St. Louis, Brown had his longest run of the season – a 45-yarder – but sustained a shoulder injury. That kept him out two weeks, and in December, he missed three more games with a chest injury.
With injuries hampering him at times, Brown rushed for just 69 yards in the final 10 games of the regular season, but along with Addai – whom Brown credited with helping him develop as a rookie – he helped the Colts' running game improve in the post-season.
The Colts in the post-season turned in three of their better rushing performances of the season, and while Brown had comparatively fewer carries than Addai, he rushed 10 times for 36 yards in the AFC Championship and Super Bowl.
And while Brown said there were difficulties at times during his rookie season, he knew from the start he belonged in the NFL.
"If you didn't belong here, you wouldn't be in the locker room – that's the way I look at it," Brown said. "It was a year of ups and downs, so you just have to remember to stay focused and stay the course and just keep the eye on the prize and keep chomping at the bit."
Which is what he said he plans on doing this off-season. The Colts' off-season conditioning program begins April 12, with mini-camp and organized team activities in May and June considered a critical time for the development of a player, particularly a player entering his second season.
That's the period of time Colts personnel and coaches often say a player develops more than any other, and it's a time Brown said he will take seriously. He said being around the Colts' veterans this past off-season taught him not only how to approach an NFL season, but the imance of aspects some might overlook.
"I'd say, 'Everything,'' Brown said when asked what area he considers most important entering the off-season. "I'd say the little things. It's the attention to detail. That's the biggest difference between college and pro, is the attention to detail, so really, that's what I'll focus on – just working on the little things.
"You've got to continue making your weaknesses your strengths and your strengths even greater."