It's so important for a rookie to enter camp on time. Nice to see Addai is on track and already receiving kudos from the team.
First-Round Selection Addai Reports On Time TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Of all the headlines he has seen in recent weeks, one stood out to the guy who plays quarterback for the Colts. He saw it Sunday morning.
And it involved 2006 NFL first-round draft selection Joseph Addai.
The headline said Addai, a running back from Louisiana State University, had signed a contract with the Colts and would report to camp on time. That indeed happened Sunday, something two-time quarterback Peyton Manning called “a real positive.”
“I called him on the way up here,” Manning said Sunday morning as the Colts reported to 2006 Training Camp at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
“He's excited and I know the team’s excited to have him.”
Addai’s signing was among a flurry of Colts transactions this weekend as the team prepared for its eighth consecutive training camp in Terre Haute. By Sunday, six of the Colts’ seven selections in last April’s NFL Draft had signed and all six – Addai, offensive tackles Charlie Johnson (sixth round) and Michael Toudouze (fifth), cornerback T.J. Rushing (seventh), cornerback Tim Jennings (second) and safety Antoine Bethea – arrived by the 2 p.m. reporting time.
Duration and terms of the contracts were not disclosed.
Addai’s on-time arrival marked the second consecutive season the Colts’ first-round selection signed before training camp. The Colts signed cornerback Marlin Jackson shortly before camp began last season.
“We thought that was going to be the case,” Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said. “The years I’ve been here, (Colts President) Bill (Polian) and his group have pretty much done that. You get that message to the young guys and tell them how important it is for them to be here.”
Only linebacker Freddie Keiaho – a third-round selection – remained unsigned, a situation Polian attributed not to Keiaho, Keiaho’s agent or the team, but to a newly-installed rookie salary cap.
“I understand where his agent is coming from,” Polian said. “This is a completely non-functional rookie system in this new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It has forced clubs to do things they never, ever would have done under the old system.
“I can’t imagine how it was constructed – certainly not with the input of any football people. It’s a problem which we understand. I’m not sure if we can solve it or not. We’re going to work on that tonight (Sunday). We’ve had communication and it continues.
“But the structure that he wants is impossible under this system. I understand why he wants it and he’s got every reason to ask for it, but it’s impossible to do.
“It’s the fault of the system. Not us or the agent.”
Addai’s arrival and signing, coming in the final days leading to camp, was a topic of conversation among veteran arrivals, and Addai drew one of the biggest crowds of media as he checked into camp.
“I feel comfortable,” said Addai, the 30th overall selection of the draft. “I feel like I can start off with everybody else and be on the same page as everybody. The offense is really complex, and I felt like it was really important for me to get here on the first day so I can be on Page One when everybody starts.”
Of his Sunday pre-arrival conversation with Manning, Addai said, “He congratulated me. He was really happy that I’d be in camp on time. Those are the kinds of things he was really saying – just congratulating me on my deal and all that.”
Addai (5-feet-11, 214 pounds), who started 19 of 51 games at Louisiana State University, is expected to enter camp as a backup to veteran Dominic Rhodes, who will open camp as the starter. Veteran James Mungro also could play extensively, Dungy and Polian have said in recent weeks.
Still, although he may not start immediately, Addai is critical to the Colts’ plans this season, veteran teammates said on Sunday, and that made his on-time arrival critical, too.
“It’s definitely a big, big help for us,” Colts Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday said. “You didn’t want him not coming into until camp was done, missing that much. I think him being here he’s going to understand the game quite a bit faster and he’ll understand the speed of the game a whole lot faster.
“We’ll see what he can do – without getting hit, obviously – but it’s always an advantage to have guys here and playing with everybody.”
Said tight end Dallas Clark, “It’s taken care of? That’s awesome. That’s huge. As a rookie, this is the time you need to come in and really get on that roll and get in a groove. It’s huge. It’s going to help him and help us. I think everybody’s definitely excited about that.”
Manning, who played seven of his first eight NFL seasons with former Colts running back Edgerrin James – who signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent this past off-season – also said Addai being in camp on time is important.
During the team’s recent summer school sessions, Manning said he and Addai watched film together, including one session in which they watched a game against Tennessee last season. During that session, they focused on the intricacies of the Colts’ no-huddle offense, with Manning explaining in detail why the Colts changed certain plays at the line of scrimmage.
It’s that sort of learning, Manning said, that Addai will continue during camp, and it’s that complexity that made his on-time arrival crucial.
“The summer school and the minicamps are good,” Manning said, “but until you put the pads on, there’s always another level to take it to. This will be great work for him to just get great repetition in training camp – for him and Dominic both. It could be could be by committee or one guy come out of this camp as the legitimate starter, we don’t know. That’s what training camp is for – to get the competition with shoulder pads on, and to get the chemistry between the starting unit.”
Manning said he wanted to be cautious not to praise Addai too extensively, and not to make comparisons with James, but he said Addai has thus far progressed rapidly.
“The guy’s got enough pressure on him as it is – comparisons and what not,” Manning said. “He has picked things up pretty quickly. I think playing in an advanced offense at LSU, playing against different defenses and different blitzes, he has a good idea of what’s going on. The thing about this offense is what’s in the playbook isn’t exactly what happens out there on the field. I think it frustrates a lot of rookies, and especially free agents. They’re like, 'Wait a minute, this was the play, but it’s not the play that’s actually run.’
“I’m like, ‘Welcome to the Colts’ offense.’ That’s the story of our offense, but he’s picking up the changes and the ins and outs of the offense.”