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Nice Read About Colts Backup RB Situation

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Nice Read About Colts Backup RB Situation

Postby Dr. Duran Duran » Thu May 31, 2007 6:14 pm

For those interested in seeing what lies beyond Addai and Dorsey...

Running Back Keith Looks to Make Transition from CFL to NFL
INDIANAPOLIS – The time is now for Kenton Keith.
The coming months may not exactly be a “now-or-never” scenario, but for the former Canadian Football League standout, it’s not far off.

Keith, who spent the last four seasons playing for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the CFL, signed with the Colts this off-season as a 26-year-old free agent running back.

He will turn 27 in July, two weeks before training camp.

Hardly ancient, even in professional football years, but as a guy trying to make an NFL roster, it’s old enough to present what he considers a logical deadline.

“If I had to come back next year, I don’t think I would do it,” Keith said during the Colts’ summer-school sessions, which continued this week at the team’s practice facility. “I think I would be too old.”

As it is, Keith said he believes it may be the perfect time to make the jump from the CFL to NFL.

He’s young enough to be in his physical prime.

And old enough to benefit from his experience.

And it’s that experience that Keith said may be his greatest strength in trying to make the Colts’ roster.

“I think a lot of the things a college player goes through – the speed, the quick calls, the changes and the audibles – a lot of that stuff is something you can’t really learn or teach it,” Keith said. “You have to go through it and experience it – to know the tempo, when you can be patient.”

Keith, who played collegiately at New Mexico State, said that experience is about knowing how to play professionally, something he learned the last four years.

After spending the 2002 season on the Saskatchewan practice squad, he rushed for 709 yards and five touchdowns in 2003, then signed with the New York Jets that off-season before being waived in June – before training camp began.

“I didn’t think I was ready at the time, but I still tried it,” Keith said. “I learned a lot and when I went back to Canada, I took some of those tools and I was a lot better running back.”

In 2004, Keith had his first 1,000-yard season, rushing for 1,154 yards and nine touchdowns on 190 carries, and he followed that with 911 yards and five touchdowns on 151 carries in 2005 and 1,037 yards and two touchdowns on 167 carries this past season.

Keith, who said he might have tried the NFL again after the 2004 season had he not been under contract, signed with the Colts after this past season.

Immediately, he said he realized it was a unique situation.

“I’m the oldest running back here,” he said with a laugh.

That’s because Dominic Rhodes, who played with the Colts the past six seasons, signed with the Oakland Raiders as an unrestricted free agent after last season, leaving second-year veteran Joseph Addai as the lone back on the Colts’ roster with an NFL carry.

The transition, Keith said, thus far has been a comfortable one. Addai has been one reason, and another has been the friendships he has formed in the locker room.

“I’m learning the things I thought I would, and I think I’m learning things a little more quickly than the college guys just because I’ve been playing on the professional level for while,” Keith said. “It feels good to be, not a young guy, but basically a learner again. Joseph’s been teaching me a lot. At the same time, I teach him a lot, just from being a veteran.

“A lot of it is kind of similar to Canada. For me to hear it one or two times, I can pick it up, so I’m comfortable right now.”

Part of that comfort level, Keith said, is because of his position. The CFL and NFL, for some positions such as cornerback and wide receiver, are vastly different because the CFL allows more pre-snap motion. But for running backs, the leagues are comparatively similar, Keith said.

“You get the 3-4 and the 40 fronts, and it’s just, ‘Let’s play ball,’’’ Keith said.

Another reason, Keith said, is because he is more mature than during his months with the Jets.

“When I came out of college, I wanted to show my speed almost every play,” Keith said. “You try to run fast and you mess up your technique. Now, I can worry about technique instead of trying to do everything too fast.”

Playing in Canada, he said, “helped me a whole lot mentally.

“If there’s anything I learned is this game is 90 percent mental,” Keith said. “Everyone up here is an athlete. It’s just about making the right decision and when you choose to make that decision.”

Being a veteran has helped the transition off the field, too.

“Coming from college, they’re not used to sitting in meetings all day,” Keith said. “A lot of people get cut for not going to treatment, not doing just the little things that matter when you’re a veteran. Me going into this league now, I know what to do and what not to do and I know how to be patient.

“I know it’s not always about speed. Once you get the ball, then it’s about speed, but you have to take care of your responsibilities first.”

And that, Keith said, is one part of his task at hand. And while that task may not be far off from a now-or-never scenario, it’s one for which Keith said he is prepared.

“They’ve taken me in real well,” Keith

said. “When I went to the Jets, I didn’t know anybody. It was kind of hard to make friends and I was a little nervous. But they’ve accepted me real well here.

“I feel good about it. I have a good feel for the team. Me and (running backs coach) Gene (Huey), we get along real good.

“If it doesn’t happen for me, it will be me that messes it up.”

THE RUNNING BACKS

Joseph Addai

Second NFL season

5-11, 214

Louisiana State

Acquired: First round, 2006 (No. 30 overall)

The Colts’ first draft selection in 2006, he led all NFL rookies in rushing last season despite not starting during the regular season. . . . He rushed for 1,081 yards and seven touchdowns on 226 carries, including a season-high 171 yards and four touchdowns in a November victory over Philadelphia. . . . Scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard run in the Colts’ 38-34 AFC Championship Game victory over New England. . . . Started all four postseason games and is expected to enter the regular season as the starting running back after the off-season departure of last year’s regular-season starter, Dominic Rhodes. . . . Also caught 40 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown last season.

DeDe Dorsey

Second NFL season

5-11, 196

Lindenwood

Acquired: Waivers, 2006

He spent last season on the Colts’ roster, playing in 13 games, mostly on special teams. . . . He played mostly on kickoff returns as a rookie. . . . He originally signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as a collegiate free agent after the 2006 NFL Draft, then joined the Colts off waivers shortly before last season. . . . Originally a cornerback in college, he had seven interceptions as a junior before switching to running back. . . . He rushed for 1,600 yards and 18 touchdowns as a senior, when he was an NAIA All-American. . . . He also was an NAIA All-American defensive back as a junior, when he scored three defensive touchdowns.

Luke Lawton

Second NFL season

6-0, 245

McNeese State

Acquired: Free agent, 2007

He signed with the Colts as a free agent on February 6, 2007. . . . A fullback, he has spent time on the practice squads of Buffalo, the New York Giants, Atlanta and the New York Jets. . . . He participated in four games on special teams with the Jets in 2005. . . . He started three seasons at McNeese State, rushing for 1,114 yards and 22 touchdowns on 246 carries.

Kenton Keith

First NFL season

5-11, 198

New Mexico State

Acquired: Free agent, 2007

Keith, who played the past four seasons with the Saskatchewan Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League, signed with the Colts on January 16, 2007. . . . He has rushed for 3,811 yards and 21 touchdowns on 610 carries in the CFL. . . . After signing with the New York Jets in 2004, he was released in June of that year. . . . He twice rushed for more than 1,000 yards with Saskatchewan. . . . He also is a threat as a receiver, having caught 126 passes for 1,178 yards and eight touchdowns. . . . He rushed for 2,134 yards in 39 games at New Mexico State, scoring 13 touchdowns as a senior.

Clifton Dawson

Rookie

5-10, 212

Harvard

Acquired: Free agent, 2007

Dawson, the all-time leading rusher in Harvard history, signed as a free agent shortly after the 2007 NFL Draft. . . . He started 39 of 40 games and for his career, he rushed for 4,841 yards and 60 touchdowns on 958 carries. . . . He also caught 80 passes for 759 yards and four touchdowns. . . . He finished as the Ivy League record-holder for career rushing yards (4,841), career rushing touchdowns (60), career touchdowns (66), career points (398) and career all-purpose yards (6,138). . . . He was named first-team All-Ivy League four times.

Chris Morgan

Rookie

6-0, 210

Indiana-Pa.

Acquired: Free agent, 2007

A prolific runner in college, he signed with the Colts as a collegiate free agent after the 2007 NFL Draft. . . . A four-year starter, he moved from free safety to running back as a freshman, starting 36 of 40 games. . . . He rushed for 3,817 yards and 34 touchdowns on 680 carries and also caught 41 passes for 416 yards and two touchdowns.
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