Veteran Running Back will Make First Colts Start Since '06, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Dominic Rhodes hasn't started at running back for the Colts since 2006.
According to Head Coach Tony Dungy, that will change Sunday.
Rhodes, who started 16 regular-season games for the Colts in 2006 before spending last season with the Oakland Raiders, likely will start Sunday in place of injured Joseph Addai, Dungy said on Wednesday afternoon.
Addai, a Pro Bowl selection last season, sustained a hamstring injury against Baltimore this past Sunday.
"I wouldn't look for Joseph to play this week," Dungy said Wednesday as the Colts (3-2), the five-time defending AFC South champions, prepared to play the defending NFC North champion Green Bay Packers (3-3) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday at 4:15 p.m.
"Dominic will start, and we have Chad Simpson and Cliff Dawson. I think that's going to be our three backs this week. Those guys will do well."
Dungy said he didn't expect Addai to be out on a long-term basis.
"I don't think it will be very long," Dungy said. "When we get to the end of the week, there might even be some thought to play him, but my sense is we have a lot of time left in the season. Rather than rush him back too quick, my sense is we'll go with these three guys.
"I'm sure he'll be lobbying to play by the end of the week, but we'll see."
Dungy discussed Addai's injury the same day the club announced that Mike Hart, a rookie sixth-round selection from the University of Michigan, had been placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. The team also announced Wednesday it had re-signed Simpson and Dawson, two running backs who have spent extensive time with the team.
"It's really, really a shame," Dungy said of Hart, the Colts' third running back in the first five games of the season. "He's a very good player. He would have brought some energy to us, but I think Chad will give us the same thing."
Simpson, who signed with the team as a rookie free agent shortly after the 2008 NFL Draft, had been on the Colts' practice squad this season.
"Chad's been with us," Dungy said. "He has a lot of energy and he'll run the ball well for us."
Dawson, who signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent after the 2007 NFL Draft, spent time with the Colts and Bengals last season. He also had been with the Colts in training camp this season.
"I wish it were under different circumstances, obviously, but when I saw the injuries (to Hart and Addai) I figured I'd have a good chance of coming back here because of my experience playing last year and because of my familiarity with the offense," Dawson said. "When I got that call, I was ready to go."
Also on Wednesday, the Colts released their first injury reof the week, with cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee), safety Bob Sanders (knee), running back Joseph Addai (hamstring), tight end Gijon Robinson (ankle), linebacker Freddy Keiaho (groin), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), defensive end Dwight Freeney (rested) and defensive end Robert Mathis (rested).
Hayden recently underwent surgery on his meniscus and will not practice or play this week, Dungy said.
"He'll be back pretty soon, I think," Dungy said.
In other Colts news, the club announced Wednesday that veteran linebacker Tyjuan Hagler – who spent the first six weeks of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list – will begin practice Wednesday while guard Ryan Lilja – also on PUP for the first six weeks – will not begin practice.
Dungy said Hagler could play Sunday.
"As long he tolerates practice well and is not sore by the end of the week, I think we might see him," Dungy said. "He'll start to practice and we'll see how he does. When he gets back to his old form and gets used to carrying the pads, and feels good, he'll play. We'll get him there at some point. Everybody's ready to play, but getting in the pads takes a little getting used to.
"We'll make sure he's not sore at the end of the week. If he's not, and if he's ready to go, I would think we'll at least have him playing in some capacity."
Last season, with outside backer Cato June signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the off-season, and with veteran Rob Morris sustaining a knee injury in late September, Hagler moved into the starting lineup in early October.
He started seven games last season, including four at strong-side backer and three at weak-side backer. He finished the season with 60 tackles, 34 solos, and also had a sack and a quarterback pressure. He also forced one fumble and recovered another.
Second-year veteran Clint Session has started the first five games at strong-side backer.
"I don't think I'll be a starter right away," Hagler said. "They'll probably work me in there and see how well I do and everything. I don't think they're going to throw me into the fire right away.
"It has been very difficult. It's hard just sitting out there watching everyone playing knowing that you want to be out there and you can contribute, so it was very hard."
Also on Wednesday, Dungy discussed the Colts on Tuesday trading an undisclosed draft selection to the Buffalo Bills for defensive tackle John McCargo, a third-year NFL veteran and former first-round draft selection.
"John is a guy who was a high pick," Dungy said. "He played on a North Carolina State defensive line that had three first-round draft choices. He was a guy we had high grades on and he happened to be available. It's an area where we could use some help and we look forward to getting him in here."
McCargo (6-feet-2, 307 pounds), who played collegiately at North Carolina State, was selected by the Bills their second first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft. He has played in four of Buffalo's five games this season.
McCargo, who has played in 25 career games in two-plus seasons, played in all 16 games as a reserve last season, recording 2.5 sacks, breaking up four passes, forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble. He also had seven tackles for losses.
"We think he can fit well into this system," Dungy said. "We're hoping a change of scenery is good for him."
Dungy said hope is that McCargo could play against Green Bay. The Bills' defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, coached under Lovie Smith in Chicago, which employs the same basic "Tampa 2" defensive philosophy and system as that of the Colts, Dungy said.
"He just has to get used to us," Dungy said. "We've had guys play on one day before, so it can be done."