Colts Teammates Happy with Rhodes' Return
INDIANAPOLIS - Dominic Rhodes couldn't be happier to be back with the Colts.
The feeling is mutual.
Rhodes, an eight-year NFL veteran running back who spent last season with the Oakland Raiders, recently rejoined the Colts, returning to the team for which he played from 2001-2006. On Friday, the first day of the Colts' three-day veteran/rookie minicamp, Rhodes said he was ecstatic to rejoin his former teammates and friends.
The former teammates and friends said the same thing.
"It's awesome," Colts tight end Dallas Clark said. "I just love it. He's such a great guy – funny, easy-going, relaxing. It just kind of feels right to have him back in the locker room. We missed him a lot. I think just having him really adds a lot more. The running back is a tough position, so the more depth you can have . . ."
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who played with Rhodes in his first six seasons, said, "I'm excited to have Dominic back.
"He gives us a real boost," Manning said. "He gives us a veteran player there who is familiar with this system. It will take him a little time to catch back up on any changes we've made, to get familiar again."
Rhodes, who rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown in the Colts' Super Bowl XLI victory over the Chicago Bears following the 2006 season, signed with the Raiders as an unrestricted free agent last off-season.
He rejoins a Colts backfield that now includes his former backfield mate, starter and third-year veteran Joseph Addai, as well as reserves Kenton Keith and Clifton Dawson and rookie sixth-round selection Mike Hart, the University of Michigan's all-time leading rusher.
"Dom is a different runner than those other guys," Clark said. "He has his own little style. It's great to have him back and bring back that veteran (presence) for us."
Rhodes, who rushed for 2,274 yards and 19 touchdowns on 550 carries in six seasons with the Colts, also caught 90 passes for 649 yards and a touchdown during his tenure with the team. Last season with the Raiders, he rushed for 302 yards and a touchdown on 75 carries in a season in which he played only 10 games. He also caught 11 passes for 70 yards.
"Dom played great for us in the time he was here, and I thought he really ran well against us in Week 15 in Oakland last year," Manning said. "We still feel like he's got it. He really played well in his last year here, so we hope to get that same kind of production out of him this year. I'm glad to have him back.
"He's a good receiver out of the backfield. He knows what to do. I think he'll be a big addition to our team."
Rhodes rushed for 41 yards on seven carries in Week 15 against Indianapolis last season, then finished the season with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games – 115 yards on 22 carries against Jacksonville and 122 on 29 carries against San Diego.
"I think everybody's excited to have Dom back," Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. "As we said when he left, it was one of those situations where you don't like to lose people. He'd been a big part of what we'd done on offense for three or four years before that.
"His personality is pretty infectious. I think all the guys are pretty happy to have him back."