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Colts Running Back Donald Brown Taking On a New  Role?

After Colts starting running back Joseph Addai suffered through a series of injuries in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, it made a lot of sense for the Colts to draft a running back in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.  They chose the nation’s leading rusher, Donald Brown out of the University of Connecticut.  Then, Addai put together his best and healthiest performance since his rookie season in 2006.

No, Addai did not approach the production of his sophomore season in the NFL, but he did show the he still had the speed, the pop, and the toughness to be a force as a primary back.  Brown, on the other hand, dealt with his own nicks and bruises that kept him from participating and being effective in a number of contests.  He did show impressive speed and quickness, however, and left many fans thinking that all he would need is a crease to really cause damage.

This year Brown will move beyond his “God damn it Donald” moments and will be more comfortable in the Colts offense.  He will also enter 2010 with NFL experience, an understanding of how fast the NFL game is played, and will use his experiences from a season ago to get ready physically for the beating professional backs take throughout the season.  After all, no one should be more prepared or capable to do so than Brown, he has a degree in exercise science and is known for being meticulous with his diet and physical health.

Scott Boehm | Getty Images

Perhaps, then, it is no surprise when Colts head coach Jim Caldwell says, “He’s coming along, and is in the same mold as Joseph (Addai) … in terms of having an understanding of the offense.”  Maybe it also is less surprising due to his background that Caldwell would refer to Brown as “more of a power back” than Joseph Addai.

It is no secret that the Colts generally lean on Addai in short yardage situations and that he has been largely successful in that role.  It was also clear last year that while Brown may be more of a downhill runner, more of a one cut runner, he did not seem to be about power as much as speed and decisiveness.

Caldwell knows more than fans could at this point how Brown has progressed mentally and physically and if he suggests that Brown is more of a power back than Addai, it could mean that his role in short-yardage situations will increase in 2010.  It also could indicate that he is stronger than in 2009 and could prove more durable in the new season.  Either way, it is logical that the second year back will play an increased role if for no other reason than learning the system and gaining experience.  Indications that the coaching staff sees him filling a role that was not apparent a season ago can do nothing but increase the confidence fans should have in the young running back’s future.