ANDERSON –A year of frustration for the Colts in 2011 was a season of statistical bests for running back Donald Brown.
What Brown did for Indianapolis was to carry a 4.8 rushing average over 134 attempts in 16 outings. It was the most potent rushing season of his three-year career, and he capped off the club's first win with an 80-yard burst that tied the franchise mark for the longest touchdown run.
Though he felt the sting of a difficult season, Brown shouldered his load, and that is the approach he has brought again to the 2012 training camp at Anderson University.
With the club having turned a page in naming a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and installing a new offense, Brown will follow his same approach.
"It doesn't matter where I am on the depth chart, I'm going to prepare like I'm the starter," said Brown. "You never know what situation you're going to be put into, so I always prepare like I'm the starter. Whatever opportunity comes, make the most of it."
Brown's fourth season finds him in prominent plans in the offense. The team wants to establish a more powerful rushing presence than in past seasons. Brown will be ready to deliver.
"I wouldn't say (I have) greater opportunity," said Brown. "Whatever opportunity I have, I'm going to make the most of them. That's been my motto since I got here."
Bruce Arians was asked on the first day of camp what he wanted in the rushing game. It took the loquacious Arians one word.
"Physicality. We want to be able to run the football when we want to run the football," said Arians. "There aren't any numbers (set in stone). You know we aren't running 35 times. Every game dictates different numbers. But when we want to run it, we want to be able to run it, and be able to be physical – old school football, double-team, kick out and hit it up in there."
Arians spent the last five seasons as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator. Chuck Pagano spent the last four years with Baltimore trying to thwart the Steelers offense. It is a division known for robust rushing attacks, and the Indianapolis offense this year should bear a closer resemblance to those AFC North clubs.
Brown has seen those changes now that players have had a steady force-feeding of it. He believes the style suits him.
"Just some downhill, smash-mouth running. That's what I'm comfortable with," said Brown. "That's what I'm excited about. I love the system. I'm very comfortable with it. I'm excited to get running and especially with the big guys that we have up front. I mean horses up there.
"It's very exciting for the backs. We have a great backfield right now and guys that bring many different things to the table. We have many weapons on offense. We have many multiple formations, and we're going to keep defenses on their toes for sure. … Me personally, (it's) just a better offense."
Brown has started 11 of 40 career appearances for Indianapolis and has a 4.2 average on 341 attempts. Second-year back Delone Carter is the only other back on the roster with previous offensive experience with the club. Darren Evans saw special teams play twice last year, and Indianapolis has added veterans Deji Karim (Jacksonville) and Mewelde Moore (Minnesota, Pittsburgh), who have previous league experience.
"It will be (different than past camps). Every year is different, whether you are in the same organization or a different organization," said Brown. "Every year is different. But there is a lot of energy here right now. It's exciting to be around. It's exciting to be a part of this organization right now. There are a lot of new faces, but we are starting to become familiar with one another, more familiar with the systems and getting better each and every day."
David Walker returns for his second season as Brown's position coach, and the back likes the fit. It works for him, and he is comfortable with the feel of his teammates and the new environment.
"I'm very excited. I'm glad to have Dave back," said Brown. "He's a student of the game himself. He's a former player. He's a phenomenal guy and coach. He's really helped out my game, and I'm happy to have him back.
"I have tremendous confidence in the guys around me, in the system and in myself. We're hearing the offense now for the fifth time. It's starting to soak in. Guys are getting more comfortable. They're having fun and playing, and that's what it's all about."