INDIANAPOLIS – Injuries the past two seasons have impeded running back Joseph Addai's availability for the Colts.
Addai started seven of eight appearances in 2010, and he has opened 10 of 11 outings this season. Some of those this season were shorter appearances than normal because of a hamstring injury. He has learned from this season, though, and would like nothing more than a victory on Sunday to foster positive feelings for himself and his teammates moving forward.
"Obviously, we didn't have the season that we wanted to do, but just winning these last three games is a big thing," said Addai. "It will be a good feeling just to go into next year right. Knowing that we are going to have a season next year that is going to happen, so to win out your last three games that builds momentum going into the next season. Even though that is a long time from now, it is always good to win games. We won the Tennessee (and Houston games) and everybody was happy, and it is always good to go home happy. So you want to come back, get on that plane, be happy and kind of go into next season with a positive attitude."
Addai's 414 yards on 110 rushes rank behind Donald Brown's team-leading total of 621 yards. His yards and attempts are around his totals of 2010 (116-495), and those mark the lowest seasonal totals of his career. The injuries have hampered his contributions, but he has been pleased to see two teammates prosper.
"It is always good when you can get some yardage out there on the field, me and Donald (Brown) both," said Addai. "Donald has been doing a great job and Delone (Carter) has come in there and done a few things also. So as far as the running game, it is going the right direction. Hopefully we can stay on that (path) for next year."
Indianapolis has played with three different starting quarterbacks this season, a first for Addai and many teammates. The Colts have shown more of a dedication to rushing the ball and even have used fullbacks consistently in the attack for most of the season. Addai likes the commitment to the ground game, as well as populating the backfield with another body.
"Obviously, we know it's a pass-first team," said Addai. "We know that every team has its own identity. Knowing that and understanding the situation we have to work with, slowly but surely we've become kind of more of a run team. We're trying to dial up more runs and get more yardage. Me being a running back, I love that. (You) really, really have to stay positive and keep your head up because every situation is totally different.
"You get different looks (with adding a fullback). Are you asking me do I like it? Yeah, I like it. It's really my first time playing with a fullback in my career. At LSU we kind of did what we did here, a tight end played fullback or whatever. I think it will be a good look for us."
An 0-13 start and with a record that stands at 2-13 has impacted every player. Many players on the Colts roster never had experienced a losing season prior to this year. Many players new to the club did not experience a victory until December 18, when Indianapolis topped Tennessee. Addai knows challenges affect people different ways. He saw teammates holding up by sticking together.
"Any bad situation, not only football, when you go through a bad situation, it either makes you or breaks you," said Addai. "I think for the most part everybody still has been upbeat. That's a positive thing, going into this game and next season. We've stayed together like a family situation. Whenever a family has a bad situation, everybody gets close. That's what we've been doing. That's why we've won the last two games, and hopefully we win this one.
"It's real important (to win Sunday). You want to leave the game with a smile on your face. It helps out some of the young guys who get a chance to play. It helps out going into the next season. Motivation, just a lot of things that helps player out, helps a human out. Winning would help your human nature. If you do stuff good consistently, you keep doing good. Hopefully, we win this game and it carries into next year."
Addai has been able only to dwell on winning seasons in his five previous years, including two seasons where he played in Super Bowls. This year will be one from which to learn as he looks back.
"It's a learning experience," said Addai. "Everybody has a situation where you have to learn from it. You don't always have perfect situations. That's never the outcome of life. You have to go into everything knowing it could get to this point. It's what you do afterwards."
INJURY UPDATE: Three players have been ruled out for Sunday's game. Joining quarterback Peyton Manning (neck) are linebacker A.J. Edds (ankle) and offensive tackle Joe Reitz (ankle).