Brown getting 2nd chance to deliver for Colts
Colts running back Donald Brown waited patiently for a chance to
start this season.
When he finally did, Brown delivered.
The strong, silent running back who spent 4 1/2 seasons trying
to break through finally did Sunday, rushing for 46 of his 54 yards
on the Colts’ final drive and scoring Indy’s only touchdown in a
22-14 victory over Tennessee that put them on the verge of an
eighth AFC South title in 11 years.
”I knew regardless of what happened, my number would get called
in some form or fashion,” Brown said Monday. ”When it is, you
just make the most of it.”
Coach Chuck Pagano was so impressed with Brown’s effort that he
said Monday that Brown would start again this weekend when the AFC
South-leading Colts (8-4) visit AFC North-leading Cincinnati (8-4)
– a pivotal game for playoff seeding.
Brown has seen just about everything in his 4 1/2 seasons in the
As a rookie, he was part of a team chasing perfection on its way
to an AFC title. Two years ago, he endured the ignominy of an 0-13
start and the chase of imperfection. Last year, he was part of the
second-greatest turnaround in league history, and now the Colts are
one win, or one Titans loss, away from clinching their eighth
division crown in 11 years.
But for most of that time, Brown has watched those things
happened – and this season has been no different.
When starting running back Vick Ballard went down with a
season-ending knee injury after the season opener, Indy turned to
offseason acquisition Ahmad Bradshaw. When Bradshaw was lost with a
season-ending neck injury after Week 3, the newly acquired Trent
Richardson inherited the job even though he was still learning the
offense. And as Richardson’s struggles continued and the patience
of fans waned, the Colts continued to make Brown the change-of-pace
Brown never complained. Instead, he just kept working, knowing
his chance would come.
”He is the ultimate team guy,” NFL sacks leader Robert Mathis
said. ”He doesn’t like to talk about himself because he’s not his
favorite subject. He just goes to work and he just lets his play do
all the talking.”
Brown prefers it that way.
But this was not the plan Indy had when it took the UConn star
with the 27th overall pick in 2009. Back then, the Colts envisioned
Brown becoming the workhorse back and the eventual replacement for
Though he never quite lived up to the billing, he refused to
give up and became one of the most respected guys in the locker
”He’s a great pro. He’s reliable. He’s accountable,” Pagano
It’s been tough.
Brown started only nine times in his first two seasons, running
for just 778 combined yards and five touchdowns. Even in 2011, with
Peyton Manning out and the Colts’ offense sputtering, Brown was one
of the lone bright spots averaging 4.8 yards on 134 carries. Yet he
still found himself playing behind Addai and making only two
It looked like Brown might get another chance when Indy cleaned
house last season and kept Brown around.
Instead, after taking Luck’s first NFL pass for a long touchdown
in the 2012 preseason opener, Brown lost the starting job to
Ballard when he got hurt and never won it back. Brown finished the
season with 57 carries for 324 yards and three TDs.
Critics have long complained Brown can’t pass block, pointing to
a blown pickup on fourth down late in a loss to Miami in Week 2 as
one illustration, and that he didn’t hit holes hard enough. Today,
those same people champion Brown’s patience to set up blocks,
something they don’t believe Richardson has done well enough.
Richardson is averaging 2.8 yards per carry since coming over from
Cleveland in a September trade, while Brown has thrived in mostly
He rushed three times for 65 yards at Jacksonville, six times
for 37 yards against Seattle, three times for 15 yards at San
Diego, six times for 49 yards at Houston and 14 times for 80 yards
and two TDs at Tennessee before Sundays’ showing. Indy’s only lost
just one game during that stretch – to the Chargers.
And Brown doesn’t have any plans to change things now.
”Just staying the course,” he said when asked what’s different
this year. ”Knock on wood, staying healthy, staying strong. Just
obviously studying the game plan inside and out. It’s knowing what
everybody else is doing and then obviously knowing what the defense
is going to do. It’s just studying, staying healthy and just
Notes: Pagano said Daniel ”Boom” Herron will have surgery for
a torn pectoral muscle and will be placed on season-injured
reserve. … Starting defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois is
expected to miss two to four weeks after being diagnosed with a
partially torn plantar fascia. … Pagano also said Jeff
Linkenbach, who started at right guard Sunday, has a slight tear in
his quad and is listed as week-to-week. … The Colts are planning
to ease three other injured players – cornerbacks Josh Gordy
(groin) and Greg Toler (groin) and backup linebacker Kavell Conner
(ankle) back into practice this week in hopes all three could play
against the Bengals.
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