Javarris James Says Familiarity with Colts Easing Transition to NFL
INDIANAPOLIS – The topic hardly surprised Javarris James.
James, a rookie who signed with the Colts as a free agent shortly after the 2010 NFL Draft, drew one one of the biggest crowds of media Friday on the first day of the Colts' 2010 rookie mini-camp.
James knew the topic wasn't necessarily his career at the University of Miami.
Or his first day in the NFL.
James, the lone running back acquired by the Colts during the April 22-24 NFL Draft or as a rookie free agent, is the cousin of former Colts running back Edgerrin James, not only the franchise's all-time leading rusher, but one of the most beloved players of the Indianapolis era.
So, when the crowd gathered Friday, Javarris James had an idea the topic.
"I know what these questions are," he said with a smile.
James, after all, has heard the questions before.
James, a two-year starter at Miami, not only followed his famous cousin at Immokalee High School, he followed him at Miami, where Edgerrin James helped revive the program in the late 1990s.
With the Colts, Edgerrin James not only won two NFL rushing titles – in 1999 and again in 2000 – he also made the Pro Bowl four times, and helped the Colts to post-season appearances in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Thus, one of the topics about which Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell spoke with Javarris James:
He needs to be himself.
Because there's no reason to try to be Edgerrin.
"Yes, that has been said to him, but also you know Edge, and I'm certain that Edge has said that to him on several occasions," Caldwell said. "I don't think he's trying to come in here and live up to those expectations because it would be a daunting task, obviously. He is who he is.
"He has his own set of skills, and that's what he has to rely on."
Javarris James, who rushed for 2,162 yards and 18 touchdowns on 503 career carries in college, said while there were times early in his career at Miami that he tired of questions about his cousin, those times are past.
"I got better at it," Javarris James said. "At first, going into UM it was kind of hard. All of the great things he did, people automatically expected me to do the same things as him. I realize having him as my cousin there are going to be a lot of expectations, but I have to go out there and be own thing and my own man. It hasn't been hard. He helped me through it. He always gave me a lot of advice.
"I understand how things go and I understand the expectation. Edgerrin did a lot of great things. For me to do half of the things he did, that would be an accomplishment."
The advice, Javarris James said, has continued in recent months. Edgerrin James, who played for Arizona from 2006-08 before being released by the Seattle Seahawks this past regular season, still wants to play another year or two, Javarris James said.
Javarris James also said Edgerrin has talked of the two being teammates.
"He wanted us to be on the same team," James said.
While the chances of that are uncertain, Javarris James said his cousin has fond memories of his time in Indianapolis, and his feelings toward the organization remain fond and strong.
"He always talks about this place," Javarris James said. "He loves this place. He has a lot of great memories here. He's always going to be part of the Colts."
Javarris James said that helped make signing with the Colts an easy decision.
"It's crazy, because I grew up around here," Javarris James said. "I know a lot of the guys. I know a lot of the staff, and I know a lot of the players. I kind of have a relationship with them. When I got that call from Indy, I was excited. I was getting calls from a bunch of teams. I was kind of waiting, and when I heard Indy was calling, I called E.J. And we were happy about it.
"He's not just a football player, he's a family member. I can run to him as far as the whole process. I had him in my corner. He kind of prepared me. When I got here, a lot of things were easy for me, because of him."
Javarris James said he first met Colts quarterback Peyton Manning when he visited the Colts with Edgerrin James when he was 10 or 11. He also is close with Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who – like many Miami players – works out in Coral Gables each off-season.
"I used to come up every time we had spring break and in the summer time," Javarris James said. "One time he came to (training camp) camp and brought all the kids. I was up here and went to watch practice. Hopefully, I'll be able to do the same thing."
Whatever his future, James said he is enjoying the present, and that his first weekend in professional football was what he expected – and not entirely different from transitioning from high school to college.
"I have to get used to the playbook," he said. "There's a lot of terminology. Edge will tell me, 'Stay grounded, stay humble, keep working at it and stay consistent.'
"He just told me how to be a professional. I'm going to have a lot of free time on my own now. In college, you have a lot of work and workouts, and you always have somebody monitoring you. He said there were a lot of things I had to do on my own.
"He said, 'You've got to work out on your own if you want to be great.'"
And no matter his name, or the fame of his cousin, he said a chance at the NFL is "a dream come true."
"I always dreamed about playing in the NFL," he said. "The first practice, I was kind of shell-shocked, then when I saw Peyton, I got kind of got shocked a little bit. But so far, it has been good and I'm just glad God gave me the opunity to enjoy this."