Donald Brown has bided his time this season as the Indianapolis Colts elevated Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson to the team’s No. 1 running back position.A first-round draft pick in 2009, inconsistent performances over the last four years had pushed Brown to the Colts’ third-string spot and a role on special teams. But injuries to Ballard (knee) and Bradshaw (neck), along with a struggling Richardson, has given the former University of Connecticut standout another chance to show observers, and more than a few doubters, what he can do if given the opportunity.
After impressing the Indianapolis coaching staff with his attitude and with some good performances off the bench earlier this year, Brown made his first start of the season this past Sunday against AFC South rival Tennessee. He didn’t disappoint.
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound running back scored the only touchdown for the Colts and had a team-high 54 yards in 14 carries in a 22-14 win. While the Indianapolis running attack has been a question mark for most of the season, Brown picked up 46 of his final 54 yards on the team’s next-to-last possession of the game.
He produced when the Colts needed it the most, with the game literally on the line and the outcome very much in doubt.“The offensive line did a great job and when our number is called, that was a challenge to us. We needed to grind the clock out. We needed to score a touchdown. That’s what you practice for. That’s what your mind set has to be if you want to be a successful running team,” Brown said Monday. “It doesn’t matter who they put in the box. Sometimes you got to, if they have an extra defender, the running back has got to make somebody miss.”Sitting back and watching the team continue to bring in other running backs had to provide a few doubts about his chances to ever be a full-time performer for the Colts again. But Brown disagrees.“Just staying the course. Knock on wood, staying healthy, staying strong. Just obviously studying the game plan inside and out. Knowing what everybody else is doing and then obviously knowing what the defense is going to do. Studying, staying healthy and just staying patient,” he said.“The more weapons this team has, the better a team will be. I knew regardless of what happened, my number would get called in some form or fashion. When it is, just make the most of it.”He has certainly done that. Despite not getting a whole lot of playing time through the first 12 games of the season, Brown leads the team in rushing with 378 yards. He also is tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns (4) with quarterback Andrew Luck.