FAMILIAR SITUATION

The Colts' organized team activities aren't easy, running back Dominic Rhodes said. The coaches are tough and demanding and the quarterback is, too.

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Rhodes Likes Demanding Nature of Colts' Organized Team Activities

INDIANAPOLIS - Dominic Rhodes remembers this time well.

It's June in Indianapolis, time for the Colts' organized training activities, and Rhodes – a veteran running back – is participating in them for the first time in two years.

They Colts' OTAs aren't easy, Rhodes said. The coaches are tough and demanding and the quarterback is, too.

The pace is fast and expectations are high.

And Rhodes said he wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's what I expected," Rhodes said last week during the Colts' third week of OTAs, which will conclude this week at the team's practice facility. "I like it here, because if you drop a football here, it's the worst thing you can do in the world.

"The coaches . . . it's this early in the season and already, they're in midseason form, saying, 'You've got to do it this way. Get off the ground. Don't stop.'''

Rhodes, who played for the Colts from 2001-2006, re-signed last month after spending a season with the Oakland Raiders. He re-joined the Colts shortly before a May 16-18 mini-camp, and has been participating in the team's OTAs.

And if Rhodes remembers the Colts, the Colts remember Rhodes, too.

He had a reputation during his six seasons as a tireless, enthusiastic, energetic runner – not only a player who rushed for more than 1,000 yards as an undrafted rookie in 2001 and more than 100 yards in the team's Super Bowl XLI victory over Chicago, but a gutsy player who competed no matter the situation.

That was Rhodes before, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said.

And Dungy said the Rhodes who re-joined the team is strikingly similar.

"He's the same old guy and our guys are excited to have him back," Dungy said. "He's going to work and bring that energy to work and that's one of the reasons we like him."

Rhodes said the focus of his work the past several weeks has been re-acclimating himself with the Colts' offense, and regaining the trust of Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

"There are some things you have to go through, like blocking schemes," said Rhodes, who rushed for 302 yards and a touchdown on 75 carries last season while playing only 10 games. "I remember some of it, but I have to remember some things, little minute things – the verbiage, some of the things that Peyton says, I have to pick that back up.

"Little things like that, you have to pick them up and put them back in your memory bank for when it comes time for the season, because now he (Manning) is just shooting them at you here and there making sure you're going to keep holding onto them.

"The guys that can hold onto them, who can put it back into the play, those are the guys who stay. The guys who can't, they're gone."

Said Dungy, "He knows what we're doing. It's a matter of being away from it a little bit. He has to come back and get comfortable and I think that process will be very quick. It's going to be a matter of relaxing again and getting comfortable."

Rhodes said comfortable is something he won't be during training camp – mainly because being comfortable isn't something with which Rhodes is . . .

Well, comfortable.

After becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his rookie season after not being drafted, he spent the next four seasons as the backup to four-time Pro Bowl selection Edgerrin James.

He started 16 games in 2006 before playing as a backup in the postseason that year to then-rookie Joseph Addai.

"Every year, I think you have to approach it the same way," he said. "I think that's the way you stay hungry. For me, personally, I usually haven't been the starter, so I've always been going into the season like, 'I've got to know this. I've got to make sure I'm on it.'

"It came easy because I've been here so long. I'm approaching it the same way: I am a veteran. I know I'm a vet. I still walk around and everybody says, 'It's Dom,' but in the same sense, Dom still has to know what he has to do on the field.''

And what he said he will do on the field in the OTAs is the same thing he said he'll do in training camp, in preseason and in the regular season.

He said he'll compete, not just for a spot on the team, but for any job he can.

"I assume nothing," Rhodes said. "Everybody assumed I was just going to be the backup. I go into this thing fighting for not just backup, but every job. I want Joe to be the best he can be, so I'm going to push him as hard as I can. I'm going to make sure every play I do looks as good as the play he does. That's how I've always been. Everybody knows that when I go to camp, I'm going in fighting to try to start.

"That's my mentality. My mentality is to go in and fight. I don't ever put myself at the level when it's, 'I'm a backup.' I don't feel like a backup. I feel like I can run the football in this league as good as anybody.

"That's how I think about it and that's how I'm always going to be."

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