Thursday, May 22, 2008

Looking Forward to 2008: Running Backs

The Running back position was a bit of a concern coming into this offseason. Joseph Addai struggled big time at the end of the year, and Kenton Keith got arrested. However, the Colts have completely changed that around, and now running back may be the best position on the roster. Here is the rundown on the running back position for the 2008 Indianapolis Colts

Joseph Addai

Addai is coming off of a Pro Bowl year where he started out as an elite running back and ended as a mediocre one. After his amazing game against the Patriots, he faltered due to injuries on the offensive line and wear and tear on the body. However, now he has a great supporting cast around him, and he is ready to destroy the competition.

Joseph Addai had 704 yards in his first 7 games. In the last 8, he had 368. The teams he played against in the second half were not much better than the ones the Colts played in the first half. Addai is one of the most talented backs in the league with a perfect combination of power and speed. That goes well with his pass catching ability and goal line running.

Addai took 58% of the team's carries. That is too much for a player who has never been the main back. For a good comparison of what should be expected of the Colts rushing game next year, look no further than the Minnesota Vikings.

Adrian Peterson took 48% of the team's total caries. Chester Taylor took 31%. That has to be the Colts. Give Joseph Addai 48% of the carries and give Dominic Rhodes 31%. Mike Hart can take the other 21% or split it with Luke Lawton or Kenton Keith. With this carry split, this is what I expect Joseph Addai's stats to look like.

1064 rushing yards, 6 rushing touchdowns, 426 receiving yards, 37 receptions, 1 receiving touchdown

Dominic Rhodes

Yes, he is back, and I could not be more excited. I will admit it. I was not a Dominic Rhodes fan at all when he played here. However, it was unnatural for him not to be in a Colts uniform last year. Part of the team was missing when he was gone. Now, he is entering his prime, and this will be his best year of his career.

Dominic Rhodes will make the roster this year. There is no doubt in my mind. The media and fans have been assuming that he is involved in the running back competition. He's not. Rhodes is going to play second-fiddle to Addai, like he did in the 2007 playoffs. I expect Rhodes to put up similar numbers to his playoff stats.

Rhodes, the hero of Super Bowl XLI, is getting the veteran's minimum, and he will earn every penny. Rhodes will be great as a change of pace back. Expect the Colts running game to look more like XLI than the second half of the 2007 season. Here is what I expect Rhodes' stats to look like.

585 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 197 receiving yards, 19 receptions, 0 receiving touchdowns.

Mike Hart

The Colts don't usually do sexy picks. The Colts don't have a Heisman winner on their roster. Gonzalez was Ted Ginn's understudy. Addai was unknown compared to LenDale White, who was passed on in favor of Joseph. Bob Sanders and Marlin Jackson were role players for great defenses. However, Hart is the Heisman contending, big name from a big school stud the Colts haven't drafted in a long, long time.

Hart was a big name back who just fell down draft boards. Division 1-AA players were taken ahead of him. No names went before him. Finding hidden gems has become more important than drafting proven studs.

Hart will make the roster over Kenton Keith. Keith is a determined blocker, and he can receive out of the backfield. Keith has butter fingers and is a nonfactor blocking. Hart never fumbles the ball, so he will be valuable in close games. I expect him to get 15% of the carries next year, and I also expect his stats to look like this.

270 yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 242 receiving yards, 14 receptions, 3 receiving touchdowns.

The Roster Cuts

Here are a list of players I do not expect to make the roster.

Kenton Keith, Luke Lawton, Chad Simpson, Clift Dawson, Justise Hairston.

Keith will end missing the cut, and I do not see him sticking around on the practice squad. He knows he can play somewhere else. Let him. I could see Detroit, Kansas City, or Arizona pursuing Keith. Keith played well this season, but his arrest and more importantly, his drop in the San Diego game, cost him his job.

Luke Lawton is a fairly popular player with the Colts. However, the Colts don't need a fullback. The H-back takes the place of a fullback. Santi and Tamme will take up the roster spot normally given to the fullback. Lawton can find a job on another team. Minnesota and San Diego are both in need of a fullback. They could come calling. If not, there is always the Arena League, where his style prospers in the backfield.

Simpson is my surprise pick for the practice squad. Not only is he an accomplished runner, but he can return kicks as well. For the Colts, that can make or break who gets a roster spot. Simpson will be on the practice squad, and if there is an injury in the backfield or special teams, he will be ready to step up.

Dawson and Hairston both have the same problem. A lack of talent. Both look like they will have to act upon their college degrees or else try the CFL. I don't see them as NFL players.

So to recap, here is the current Colts roster after 2 positional "Looking Forwards"

Peyton Manning
Adam Tafralis
Practice Squad
Jim Sorgi

Joseph Addai
Dominic Rhodes
Mike Hart
Practice Squad
Chad Simpson

1 comment:

jeh8 said...

hey did you see Addai has his own fantasy football league? i heard he is challenging Chris Bosh... but anyways,