WELCOME BACK, MATE

His former teammates hardly could be happier about the return of Colts running back Dominic Rhodes. His former and current backfield mate, Joseph Addai, said on Saturday during the Colts' 2008 veteran/rookie minicamp he felt the same way.

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Addai Glad to Have Former Backfield Mate Rhodes Back with Colts

INDIANAPOLIS - His former teammates hardly could be happier about the return of running back Dominic Rhodes.

His former – and now, current – backfield mate feels the same way.

Joseph Addai, a two-time 1,000-yard running back and the Colts' first-round selection in the 2006 NFL Draft, spoke to the media during the team's 2008 veteran/rookie minicamp on Saturday about a variety of topics. Foremost of which:

The return of Rhodes, with whom Addai shared time and carries in 2006.

"It feels good," Addai said Saturday on the second day of the Colts' three-day rookie veteran minicamp, which will conclude Sunday afternoon at the team's practice facility.

"You always want help at your position. He's been playing for a long time. When he was here, he was behind (four-time Pro Bowl running back) Edgerrin James and learned a lot. So now he's just helping out in different situations, so I think he will be a big help for us."

Rhodes and Addai helped one another throughout their only season together. That was 2006, Rhodes' final season with the Colts and Addai's first.

It also was the season the Colts won Super Bowl XLI.

Addai, the 30th overall selection in the draft from Louisiana State University, rushed for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns on 226 carries in the 2006 regular season. He did so playing the regular season as a backup to Rhodes, who rushed for 641 yards and five touchdowns on 187 carries.

Addai started all four playoff games, and rushed 76 times for 294 yards and a touchdown while catching a team-high 22 passes for 118 yards.

Rhodes, meanwhile, rushed for 641 yards and five touchdowns on 187 carries in his only full season as a full-time starter in Indianapolis. He flourished in the playoffs as a backup, leading the team with 306 yards and a touchdown on 62 carries.

Against the Bears in the Super Bowl, Rhodes rushed 113 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. It was his first 100-yard rushing game since 2001.

"When I first came in, he made me feel real comfortable, and that was a good thing because being a rookie is hard," Addai said Saturday. "He made me feel real comfortable and was helping me out a lot.

"I don't know if I was supposed to become the starter that year or how it was supposed to turn out, but he handled it really well, so I was really happy about that."

Rhodes this week said he expected returning to the same backfield as Addai to be an easy transition.

"It's like me and Joe never were apart," Rhodes said. "We picked up where we ended. We still joke and play around, being how we always have been and that's just having fun and getting it done. That's what I say, 'Having fun and getting it done.' I don't think there's a better one-two punch in the NFL, considering what we did that year (in 2006).

"He's older and smarter in the game, and I'm older and smarter in the game. I think we make a great combination."

Addai, the No. 30 overall selection in the 2006 draft, started 15 games this past season, rushing for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns on 261 carries, an average of 4.3 yards per attempt. He also caught 41 passes – third on the Colts – for 364 yards and three touchdowns, with his 15 touchdowns the fourth-highest total in the NFL this past season.

Addai, the AFC's ninth-leading rusher, also made the Pro Bowl for the first time.

Addai said during the Pro Bowl he felt the running backs as a group "could have put ourselves in a position to be better" late in the season. He averaged 100.5 yards per game in his first seven games of the season, and had four 100-yard games in that span. In the last eight games, Indianapolis averaged just over 75 yards a game rushing, with Addai rushing for just over 46 yards per game.

Dungy said the transition from backup to full-time starter likely contributed to the second-half statistics.

"Just talking to the veterans, (they said to) just keep doing what you do," Addai said on Saturday. "You know a lot of great guys when they came out, they had it rough. I'm not saying I had it rough coming in early in my career, but at the same time, you want to stick with the same thing, just do the same thing.

"And at the same time, you grow mentally, so I think that's what I'm doing right now."

Addai said he discussed the season with Colts Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore in an exit meeting following the season. Moore, Addai said, told him to "let it go."

"Him coaching for a long time and being here, you have to trust that and really learn from it to move on," Addai said, adding, "You just go back and look and you learn from that. You challenge yourself and that's going to probably be one of the challenges, to stay consistent throughout the whole year."

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