Addai Helping First-Round RB Brown Acclimate to NFL
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph Addai said he would not think of approaching it any differently.
Addai, a Pro Bowl running back in 2007, said when he was a rookie first-round draft selection during the 2006 season, certain players helped him acclimate to the National Football League. One player who helped him was the team's then-starting running back, Dominic Rhodes.
Three years later, there's a first-round rookie running back in Colts training camp – Donald Brown – and Addai said he knew only one thing to do upon Brown's arrival.
Answer questions, offer advice . . .
Basically, help any way he can.
"Regardless of what you do, it's a competition," Addai said. "If you're asking me, 'What kind of relationship?' Everybody wants to play, no matter what, but the biggest thing is helping each other out. The ultimate goal is to win games."
Jim Caldwell, entering his first season as the Colts' head coach, has been around Addai for three years as a quarterbacks coach as a head coach, and said he's hardly shocked that Addai has taken on a role of helping Brown learn the offense – and the NFL.
"I am not surprised," Caldwell said. "That's the great thing about the great majority of the veterans on this squad. They're willing to help and assist, particularly some of the young guys who are just getting a good sense of playing the game at this level. They have certainly been more than helpful.
"They can give it to them from a perspective that a coach cannot. They certainly have an opunity to talk to them in the course of meetings, or afterward, or at lunch – wherever it may be. Joseph is a guy who does understand our system extremely well. He can present some nuances to Donald that ordinarily maybe he would not have gotten, and it will help him along. We're certainly appreciative of that.
"It's a competitive atmosphere, but it's not one that extends beyond the field."
Addai, a starter the past two seasons and a 1,000-yard rusher in 2006 and 2007, said the overall goal for he and the rest of the players involved in the run offense is to improve that area this season. The Colts finished 31st in the NFL in rushing last season.
"The biggest thing to focus on is it's a new year – football, life, regardless, you have a chance to start over, so you have take something positive out of it," Addai said. "That's the positive thing, that you can start over and work on those small things. Do I wish it would have been better? Yeah, but I think those kind of things in life make you stronger, to see how you handle it after the fact."
Addai, who rushed for 544 yards and five touchdowns on 155 carries last season, is currently working on a one-practice-a-day basis after offseason knee surgery and Caldwell said "Joseph is coming along well."
"He looks good," Caldwell said. "His movement and quickness is where it has been. In terms of overall quickness, he's getting better and better every day. I think he's feeling comfortable after his time off."
Addai, the Colts' first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, said although Brown's presence means competition at running back the reality is he competed with Dominic Rhodes at the position in 2006 and 2008 and with Kenton Keith in 2007.
So, yes, he said, there is competition. But there always is in the NFL.
"There was competition when I first came in when Dom was here, when Dom left, when he came back," Addai said. "Now, you have all of these great running backs behind me. Yeah, there's competition, but at the same time, we're all working together.
"It's never a bad thing. You have young guys behind you, pushing you, wanting to do good to achieve a goal and the goal is for the team to do good."
Addai said that was a lesson he learned early, and not just from Rhodes. When Addai arrived in Indianapolis, he also said he learned from the player he replaced, four-time Pro Bowl running back Edgerrin James. Although James had signed with Arizona, Addai said James offered assistance.
Considering the assistance he received, Addai said he couldn't see how he could not help another younger player.
"When I first got here, I talked to Edge a lot," Addai said. "I talked to Edge, and I was behind Dom. You have a teacher who teaches you and as you get older, you cannot be a different way, no matter what's going on and no matter how people might put the situation.
"He comes to me, asks me a question, I'm going to give him answers. It's a team thing, regardless of what's going on, it's the best thing for the team to try to win a game."