Entering the 2009 season it seemed fairly clear — Joseph Addai was a dead man walking.

Following an unproductive 2008 season marred by injury, the Colts used a first-round draft pick to select running back Donald Brown.

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Joseph Addai returned to form and led the Colts a victory against the Texans last Sunday.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for Addai.

Many had questioned his effort in 2008, and his lost fumble in the season opener didn’t help public opinion.

Brown’s fresh legs and breakaway ability had fans quickly calling for Addai to take a seat on the bench.

But, with Brown recently sidelined by a shoulder injury, Addai has come on strong. Over the past two weeks he’s tallied 125 yards rushing, 53 receiving, and scored three touchdowns.

Though his mid-season numbers won’t blow anyone away, his play has been solid.

Despite playing behind an offensive line that has proven to be one of the worst in the NFL when it comes to run blocking, Addai has 399 yards rushing for five touchdown and more impressively, 34 receptions for 209 yards and another two touchdowns.

An underrated pass blocker and receiver, Addai has been a key component in the Colts’ No. 4 ranked offense.

Addai’s yards per carry is poor (3.4), but take away Brown’s 45-yard run against a sub-par Rams defense and his average is similar (3.7).

Let’s face it — Walter Payton would struggle to run consistently behind this offensive line.

Brown is set to return soon and it will be interesting to see how the Colts develop a rotation with the two backs. There is no doubt the Colts need them both at their best toward the end of the season.

When a team is 8-0 it’s hard to be overly critical, but the Colts have to get their running game fixed. It ranks 29th in the NFL and the Colts rarely try to run in short-yardage situations, knowing they can’t get a first down on the ground.

For the Colts to come away with wins against a couple of the NFL’s best defenses (New England and Baltimore) these next two weeks, they are going to have to establish a semblance of a running game.

And Addai will have to continue his improved play for that to happen.

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