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The Curious Case of Donald Brown

Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, and now, Donald Brown? Sure, one of those names is not quite like the others, but make no mistake about it, Brown is playing at a high level of football this season. The third-year pro, who was prematurely labeled as a first round bust after two disappointing seasons,  has resurrected his career and likely his long-term future as an Indianapolis Colt. The Colts are finally getting the player they thought they were getting when they made Donald Brown the 27th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Still, it’s been an interesting ride for Brown. He went from being the nation’s leading collegiate rusher at Connecticut in 2008 to fans calling for his release in this year’s preseason finale for the likes of now practice squad member RB Darren Evans. Fortunately for Brown, something has clicked and his critics have been silenced for the time being. At an exceptional 5.1 yards per carry average, Brown has been one of the few constants on a Colts’ offense that has frequently sputtered.

It’s not just in the numbers either, as the naked eye can see that Brown is running with both power and conviction. He no longer jukes around a hole, as those days appear to be long and gone. Consequently, the results have been night and day between incumbent starter Joseph Addai’s 3.9 yards per carry average and Donald Brown, as Brown has clearly been the more efficient runner between the two. Last Sunday’s 80-yard franchise tying touchdown run only cemented the fact that Brown is now a home run hitter and a legitimate running back threat for the Colts, as he displayed the vision and speed that is befitting of the position.

It’s uncertain what has changed. The Colts fired longtime running back coach Gene Huey, possibly on account of Brown’s lack of success. In his place, the team hired first year running back coach David Walker, who previously served in the same capacity for the Maryland Terrapins. Additionally, the team has finally implemented the use of a fullback in its offense. For Brown, the results have been startling. Nevertheless, it is unclear if  these are the exact causes for Brown’s rejuvenation. It also could be attributed to the fact that the game has simply slowed down for the third-year pro or that he has been presented with more opportunities with Joseph Addai’s injury woes. Whatever the cause may be, it has been a curious case for Donald Brown and the Colts, but neither side is complaining.


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