In the confines of Gillette Stadium, it’s easy to forget the harsh reality that nothing lasts forever in sports. Injuries happen, players get older, and new formidable opponents arise. And, sometimes, this can happen all at once in a flash, as with the case with Joseph Addai.
The seventh-year running back knows about mortality in the NFL from both a team and personal perspective. He experienced immediate success as a rookie with the Colts as part of a team that won Super Bowl XLI. Things only improved for Addai in the subsequent seasons playing alongside the likes of Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, and Reggie Wayne. In fact, the Colts averaged 12 wins a year in his first five seasons in Indy.
But in 2010 Addai missed half the season because of a shoulder injury, and the Colts season ended when they were upset at home by the Jets during wild card weekend. And the Colts would be dismantled just a year later after Indy limped to a 2-14 record, largely due to injuries to their stalwarts. Addai was no exception, missing four games due to a nagging hamstring injury. Despite playing in four more games than he had in the prior season, last season Addai had career-lows in rushing yards, receiving yards, receptions, and touchdowns.
At the conclusion of the forgettable campaign, Addai was cut loose by the Colts, and earlier this spring, he signed with his former team’s longtime nemesis, the Patriots. Now, with his new team and a chance to compete for another Super Bowl, Addai is focused on getting healthy before training camp in order to contribute.
“Injuries are a big part of football,” Addai said Thursday. “The only thing I can do right now is move forward. The medical staff over here has been great as far as getting my body right and ready for the upcoming season.”
Addai’s health is obviously his biggest priority going into training camp. In the 90-minute OTA session held Thursday, the 29-year-old took reps with the No. 1 offensive unit, which bodes well for him going forward. On the other hand, Addai kept a realistic outlook in terms of his progress, noting that while he felt good, it was to early to tell how healthy he’ll feel as the new chapter in his career unfolds. Additionally, Addai said Tom Brady has helped him along in understanding the playbook, but he hasn’t mastered the details of the Patriots system just yet.
The departure of BenJarvus Green-Ellis to the Bengals, coupled with the uncertainty of whether Kevin Faulk will return leaves the Patriots running back spot in a state of flux. Both Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereeen are only entering their second seasons, making Addai’s veteran presence to the group significant.