Trip to Hometown Has Been Calmer Each Year, Addai Says
INDIANAPOLIS – It took Joseph Addai one season to learn his lesson.
His rookie season, to be specific.
Addai, the Colts' third-year running back, on Sunday will play his third professional game in his hometown of Houston, Texas. And in 2006, when the first-round selection in that April's NFL Draft, visited home for the first time as an NFL running back he said, it was, to put it mildly, a bit hectic.
"It was crazy," Addai said this week as the Colts (1-2), the five-time defending AFC South champions, prepared to play the Houston Texans (0-3) in a division game at Reliant Stadium in Houston Sunday at 1 p.m.
"I didn't even have time to myself, just to relax. It was crazy. I'm like, 'I have to change the way I do it now.' It's been getting better since I've been going home, so I think it's going to work out fine."
Addai, a 1,000-yard rusher in each of his first two seasons, has had success in his hometown, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries in two games.
He rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in his first game at Reliant Stadium in 2006, then rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries last September.
His solution to the hectic time in Houston?
He said he now leans on family to take care of ticket requests.
"Each year, it kind of goes down, and that's a good thing," Addai said. "Right now, I don't know. I have everybody who wants tickets calling my brother. Let him deal with that or whatever and we just focus on the game.
"The biggest thing is you get to play in front of your friends and family, the people you've grown up with. But at the same time, it's still a game. Regardless of whether we win or lose, we still have another game next week.
"I still have to understand it's a game. We have to go out there and try to win."
In the 2007 game, one of his touchdowns was a memorable play on which Addai leapt over a defender and was hit by another in mid-air, spinning in the air as he crossed the goal line. Addai since has said he didn't pre-think the move, and doubted there would be a repeat performance.
"That happened on accident," Addai said, laughing. " 'I hope I land the right way' – that's what I was thinking. It was just trying to get in the end zone."
Addai, who has rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 43 carries this season, said the return of three-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday has helped the Colts' running game, which is currently ranked No. 32 in the NFL. Saturday returned in Week 3 against Jacksonville, a game in which Addai rushed for a season-high 78 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
"He is, I think, the foundation of this offense," Addai said. "He understands what's going on and where blocks need to be. Just having him and having his presence there, you feel a lot better as far as the whole offensive line."
Saturday returned against the Jaguars after missing the first two games with a knee injury, and Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said two other linemen who have missed time with injuries – offensive tackle Tony Ugoh and guard Mike Pollak – have returned to practice this week.
Against Jacksonville, the Colts' starting offensive line was Ryan Diem at right tackle, Dan Federkeil at right guard, Saturday at center, rookie Steve Justice at left guard and Charlie Johnson at left tackle. Federkeil left with a shoulder injury, after which rookie Jamey Richard – who started in place of Saturday at center in the first two games – replaced him at right guard.
"It's still a work in progress," Dungy said. "All of the guys who did well Wednesday – Jamey Richard, Tony Ugoh, Mike Pollak – all practiced and I don't think there was anything (Thursday) where anybody was sore. (Wednesday) was good in terms of getting everybody through Step One, but we'll see."
The Colts on Thursday released their second injury reof the week, with safety Bob Sanders (knee/ankle), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), cornerback Tim Jennings (resting) and Federkeil (shoulder) listed as not participating in practice.