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Andy Behrens

7-on-7: Colts dominate Manning Bowl II with ground assault

Andy Behrens
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Last year, the Indianapolis Colts finished 31st in the NFL in rush attempts (22.9 per game) and dead-last in rushing yardage (80.9 YPG). The team's running game hasn't averaged 4.0 yards per carry since 2006. A week ago, in the Colts' season-opening loss at Houston, they gained just 44 net yards rushing.

Whatever else you think of the Indianapolis offense, understand that it has not featured a competent ground game in recent years. But on Sunday night in Manning Bowl II, the Colts dominated the Giants with a ground-based attack, delivering their highest single-game team rushing total since 2007 (160 yards).

This is noteworthy in fantasy circles because the stats didn't belong exclusively to Joseph Addai(notes). Sure, the veteran led the team in both carries and yards (20-92), but second-year back Donald Brown(notes) was in heavy rotation, too. Brown gained 69 yards on 16 carries, he added one reception for 19 yards, and he reached the end zone at the conclusion of the Colts' opening drive. He had 10 of his carries in the first-half, so don't think he was just piling up numbers at the end of a blowout.

Brown is currently available in 64 percent of Yahoo! leagues, perhaps because the fantasy industry keeps referring to him as a "handcuff." That term really has no positive connotation. (In practice, the handcuff RB is your first drop of the season). Even if you're a longtime Addai loyalist, you need to recognize that Brown is at the very least a handcuff with benefits. Brown was a first-round selection in 2009; Addai will be a free agent in 2011. You can't reasonably expect Brown's role to diminish as the season unfolds.

Of course we're still talking about a very small team rushing workload, and Addai is still atop the hierarchy. No one's saying that Brown is an every-week fantasy starter at the moment. But in Week 2, he took a significant step toward achieving such status. If you're an Addai owner, Brown is clearly more than a nuisance.

According to a tweet out of Jersey, running back Brandon Jacobs(notes) "will meet with Giants management today and ask to be traded." Nice timing here, what with Jacobs' value being at an all-time high. By now, you've no doubt heard about Jacobs' in-game helmet incident. Jacobs had just four carries for eight yards on Sunday night, and he was benched for ineffectiveness and/or errant equipment tossing. He's a 264-pound back who seems to think he's Darren Sproles(notes). Bet the trade partners are lining up already.

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Rookie receiver Demaryius Thomas(notes) made his NFL debut on Sunday afternoon against Seattle, and it couldn't have gone much better. The 6-foot-3 wideout hauled in eight catches on nine targets, and he finished with 97 yards and a late TD. It sounds as if his opponents were impressed:

"We thought he would (play)," Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant(notes) said. "But at the same time, you are going up against him blind. He's a big- time athlete. With his size, he presents matchup problems. He came out and did some good things."

Thomas has been dealing with a foot injury for as long anyone can remember, but he certainly looked healthy in Week 2. He's an obvious waiver add right now. The Broncos drafted him early because they think he can deliver a decent Brandon Marshall(notes) impression on Sundays, without being a high-maintenance player Monday-Saturday. This is a potential star, and he was better than advertised in his first appearance. Make the add. Denver hosts Indianapolis in Week 3, and you might recall that Marshall had a pretty fair game against the Colts last year.

Michael Turner's(notes) groin injury is not believed to be significant, according to Atlanta head coach Mike Smith(notes). Jason Snelling(notes) was outstanding in Turner's absence on Sunday, rushing for 129 yards, catching five passes for 57, and crossing the goal line three times. Even if the Burner is back to full strength by Week 4, Snelling gets a value bump. Jerious Norwood(notes) was carted off with a knee injury early in Atlanta's win over Arizona.

Early reports suggest that Ryan Mathews'(notes) right ankle injury is minor, which is obviously a huge relief to those who invested an early pick in the rookie back. Mathews reportedly wanted to return to action in San Diego's Week 2 win over Jacksonville, but Norv was thinking long-term:

"Whether he could've or couldn't have returned, I wasn't comfortable having him return," coach Norv Turner said. "Depending on the severity of it, I don't want an injury that might be a one-week injury turn into a six-week injury."

The rough news for Mathews owners is that Mike Tolbert(notes), a 243-pound punisher, gained 82 yards on 16 carries against the Jaguars, and he scored a pair of short-yardage TDs. Tolbert appears to be Plan A at the goal line.

When Andre Johnson(notes) limped off the field late in the third quarter on Sunday, it seemed like the Texans were finished. But AJ went to the locker room, had his injured right ankle taped heavily, then jogged back to the sideline. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, he caught the game-tying touchdown on a jump ball. It sounds like he's going to be just fine, but an MRI has been scheduled just to survey the damage.

Dennis Dixon's(notes) knee injury doesn't seem to be too serious, but we likely won't know who will get the start at quarterback at Tampa until later in the week. Here's the scoop on Dixon, via the Pittsburgh Post Gazette: "Dixon will have more tests, but it did not appear to be seriously injured and Tomlin said he could have used him if necessary to hand off in the second half."


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