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October 23, 2006

Addai has 'answered the bell'

Indianapolis — Joseph Addai, the Indianapolis Colts’ first-round draft pick last spring, has the unenviable task of trying to replace Edgerrin James — the franchise’s all-time leading rusher — in the hearts and minds of Colts’ fans.

It hasn’t been easy. James, after all, won a pair of NFL rushing titles and was an important locker room presence during his seven seasons in Indianapolis. Addai, on the other hand, is a rookie who is continuing to learn the intricacies of the Colts’ high-powered offense.

But through the first five games of the 2006 season, it would appear as if the former Louisiana State standout is handling his situation quite nicely.

Addai is currently second on the team in rushing with 269 yards (four yards behind Dominic Rhodes’ 273 yards) on 59 carries (or 20 less than Rhodes and good for a 4.6 yard per carry average) and has one rushing touchdown. He has also caught 13 passes (third on the team) for an additional 87 yards and a touchdown.

Not bad for a running back who many thought was the Colts’ second option at draft time. Many pre-draft predictions suggested that Indianapolis was more interested in former Minnesota runner Lawrence Maroney.

Maroney, who seemed to be more in the James mold than any other running back available in the draft, was taken by the New England Patriots with the 21st pick of the first round. Indianapolis, though, ended up taking Addai with the 30th overall pick and haven’t been disappointed with their decision.

“I think he’s off to a good start,” Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said recently. “Once again, it’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint. That’s what everybody needs to remember. He is being thrown right in there on all downs, goal line, critical third downs. It’s not like we’re pulling him out and saying, ‘Hey, he might not be ready for this.’ He’s right in there. And once you’re in there, you’re kind of expected to know what you’re doing.

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