Addai Says Key to Two-Back System is Staying Ready
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph Addai said he can't predict the future.
So, when asked how the workload at running might break down with the addition of first-round selection Donald Brown next season, Addai agreed this past week with new Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell it was too early too tell.
What is known is this:
Addai, a four-year veteran and a Pro Bowl selection following the 2007 season, has been in the situation he likely will be in next season – sharing time with another running back – and he said you can never really predict carries or circumstance. You just have to be prepared.
And Addai said that won't be a problem.
"It's still early – you really can't tell," Addai said during the Colts' 2009 mandatory mini-camp, which concluded Sunday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"It's kind of like when me and Dom(inic Rhodes) were splitting time (in 2006 and 2008). We really didn't go into the game knowing who was going to get most of the carries, who was going to get this number, whatever. Really, it's just being ready when you're out there."
Addai, the Colts' first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, shared time with Rhodes as a rookie. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards while not starting a game. He then started in 2007, with Kenton Keith playing sparingly as a backup, then shared carries again this past season when Rhodes returned after a year absence.
That's the sort of approach Caldwell said he anticipates this season.
"We do like the balance," Caldwell said. "It's not any different from what we were able to do with (former running back) Edge (Edgerrin James) and Dom and Joe and Dom. We had a pretty good mix in there. We usually kind of figure that out as we go into a year and try to narrow it down, but right now I couldn't give you answers. We know one thing, that he's going to be able to get some help from the guys who are in that position.
"Donald Brown is coming along well and we certainly believe that he'll be able to give Joe a chance to take a little break once in a while."
Addai, after rushing for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and making the Pro Bowl following the 2007 season, finished this past season with 544 yards and three touchdowns on 155 carries, a 3.5-yards-per-carry average. He started all 12 games in which he played.
"I think it was probably more so that we were a bit unsettled in some situations up front," Caldwell said. "There were some situations where I think we may have been a little banged up. Joe might have had a few bumps and bruises where he might not have been as healthy as he'd like to be, so I think all of those things may have been factors contributing to that slight dip."
The Colts' running game has been an offseason theme among coaches and players. Caldwell has said it must improve next season, and Colts center Jeff Saturday has said the members of the line were embarrassed by the performance. After ranking no worse than 19th in the NFL in rushing in eight of the last nine seasons, the Colts finished this past season 31st of 32 teams, rushing for an average of 79.6 yards per game.
"You have people injured here, (there)," Addai said. "Me, myself, I was injured. I really can't say. I think this year we're just going back to the basics and understanding what we have to do.
"You really can't say it was one thing. It was a lot of things. A lot of people were injured here, a lot of people were injured there. (Colts quarterback) Peyton (Manning) didn't participate the whole training camp, so there was a lot of stuff that was going on. I think all in all, we still had a fairly good season. It never comes down to the running game or the passing game. It's just, 'How do we finish out at the end?'
"And having all of that, it tells you what kind of team we have."
Still, Addai said he agrees with Saturday and Caldwell in that whatever was wrong with the running game needs to improve next season.
"We have to get it fixed, regardless," Addai said. "No matter what, there's no pointing fingers. This is a new year. We have to fix the problems. We're starting from square one. When you come back you just watch everything and then come back to the basics.
"At the same time, you don't have anywhere to go but up."