Addai, Caldwell Optimistic About Running Back Playing Sunday
INDIANAPOLIS – Joseph Addai doesn't want to make any guarantees.
But short of that . . .
Well, Addai said he feels really, really good.
And he said after his experience the past two months, that's a real, real good feeling.
Addai, the Colts' starting running back, returned to practice on a full participation basis this week after being out eight weeks with a neck injury. He said Thursday he feels good about playing against the Oakland Raiders Sunday.
"I feel there's a great chance," Addai said Thursday as the AFC South-leading Colts (8-6) prepared to play the Raiders (7-7) at Oakland Coliseum Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
"I don't want to say, 'I'm playing,' then Friday and set myself back and not play, but I think I'm headed in the right direction as of now. We'll take it day by day, but it's looking good right now.
"I feel like I have a good chance of playing."
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said when it comes to Addai or any player returning, "You have to take it day by day."
"He came through yesterday (Wednesday) feeling good, and hopefully, it will be the same thing after today," Caldwell said. "We're kind of walking our way toward the game, so we'll see how he progresses."
Addai's return to practice this week came in the wake of one of the Colts' better rushing games of the season.
Donald Brown, the Colts' second-year running back and a 2009 first-round draft selection, rushed for 129 yards and a 43-yard touchdown on 14 carries in a 34-24 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday. It was the most rushing yards in a single game in Brown's NFL career.
"It's just making the most of the opunities you're given," Brown said. "The offensive line did a great job, but that game's over with. We learned from our mistakes. Now, we move forward."
The Colts also rushed for 155 yards as a team, with recently-reacquired veteran running back Dominic Rhodes adding 26 yards on nine carries. It as the Colts' third-highest rushing total in a game this season, and their highest since a 27-24 victory over Washington on October 17.
That also was the last time Addai played and a game in which he rushed for a season-high 128 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
The members of the Colts' offense have spoken often this season and in past seasons of needing to run well when necessary, and in crucial situations, and Addai said Sunday's game was an example of that.
"Donald did a great job, and Dominic came in and had some great runs," Addai said of the Colts' rushing performance against Jacksonville. "That was good, to see us run when we were called upon to do that. Hopefully, that will carry on to this Oakland game and we won't set ourselves back. Each game, I feel like it's a confidence-builder.
"In this game, we were able to get some runs and some passes and be an all-around team. We were able to do some things offensively that at times we couldn't do in the past. But going into this game, that was a good confidence-builder right there."
Brown, who has rushed 460 yards and two touchdowns on 120 carries this season, said Addai's return gives Indianapolis one more element in an improving backfield. Addai has rushed for 406 yards and three touchdowns on 93 carries this season.
"It's just more weapons for the offense," Brown said. "The more weapons we have, the greater we'll be."
Addai, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons, led the Colts in rushing each season from 2006-09, and was having one of his better years through the first six games of this season. He also has caught 18 passes for 118 yards this season, and is considered one of the NFL's better pass-blocking running backs.
"Obviously, he has a great grasp of what we do from a schematic standpoint," Caldwell said. "He understands all of the nuances and is very, very smart besides his physical talents that he brings to the game. Obviously, he has ability to run the ball and is a guy who can make you miss. He also has pop, power and catches the ball out of the backfield. He is very, very versatile.
"He also is a very good pass protector. Those kinds of things are things he brings to the table. He brings so many intangibles. He certainly does make a difference for us."
Said Addai, "It's always good to have people out come back in. I think it's really a good deal, and I think the whole team is happy as far as getting players back. It will help as far as going up to that next level as far as getting into the playoffs."
And Addai said while there was frustration over the past weeks, he said the focus remained clear: to return in time to help the Colts in the latter part of the season.
"I'm just happy to put on a uniform," Addai said. "I'm excited to be going in. It gets frustrating. I think the biggest thing is you always have to go back and understand that football does have injuries. Not being able to be out there with your teammates, that's frustrating.
"But you always have to take a positive from a negative. The only thing I could do was keep on trying to get better."