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Fat Lenny Hearts Joseph Addai

At Stampede Blue, we enjoy poking fun at ESPN's resident pork chop, Len Pasquarelli. It has nothing to do with his writing style or his knowledge in general. More often than not, Fat Lenny will insert an insightful comment here and there in his weekly nuggets. I personally still harbor a bit of a grudge with him for an article he posted all the way back in 2002. If I find it, I'll post it up here. The gist of the article was that Peyton Manning, praised by so many in previous years for being so good, so soon, had regressed. He actually used that term: regressed. In Fat Lenny's mind, Manning's "regression" was the reason Indy was struggling in October 2002, and he openly questioned Manning's ability to play quarterback at the NFL level. He wrote this before Indy's trip to Philadelphia. Philly, at that time, was becoming an NFC powerhouse, and everyone was praising a young Donavan McNabb for being so good, so soon. Fat Lenny gave the Colts zero chance to win the game.

The Colts dominated Philly the next day, and Manning threw a perfect game for a quarterback, including 2 TDs to Marvin Harrison (a Philly native). McNabb was putrid, harrassed all day by a then-rookie defensive end named Dwight Freeney. The vaunted Philly defense allowed an unknown runningback named James Mungro to run off over 100 yards and a TD. The Colts controlled the game from beginning to end, and Manning toyed with Jimmy Johnson and his blitzing defense all day long.

Since then, I haven't been able to take Fat Lenny too seriously. To my knowledge, he never printed an apology, or even a colorful "Well, looks like Peyton punk'd me" comment, which struck me as a bit bitter. When you get owned that badly, one of two things happen: you get fired, or you get ridiculed. Since Fat Lenny is still employed, I feel he should be made fun of at every available opportunity.

Despite all this, I still read Fat Lenny when he posts on Surpisingly, in the last week, he has posted not one, not two, but three articles on the Indianapolis Colts in the past week. I linked to one in a post here. The other is an article about Adam Vinatieri fitting in with the Colts. It's not much different from another article we linked to this past weekend.

The third article, though, is most interesting. Lenny felt the need to do an entire story on Joseph's Addai's performance at the Colts mini-camp. It was widely reported here that Addai impressed many of the coaching staff at mini-camp. Apparently, he also impressed the media. Addai was praised not just for his ability to run, but for his ability to learn and adapt quickly:

In the Friday afternoon practice at the Colts' indoor facility, Addai actually slid about six inches too far to the right during a rudimentary handoff drill, and Peyton Manning was unable to make the exchange on a sprint-draw play that is one of the staples of the Indianapolis running attack. In the next two practices that witnessed, Addai never repeated the footwork error. Manning, who already has grown weary of the media's desire for daily updates on the progress of Addai, noted that the first-rounder rarely made the same mistake twice.

Addai's receiving skills, lauded by Manning, are obvious. Unlike some running backs, who seem to fight the ball into their hands, Addai snatches it out in front of his body. And he possesses more explosiveness in the secondary and more "long speed" -- traits that jumped out on the second day of the minicamp when Addai performed every task with more confidence than he did on Friday -- than James has. There is a bit of Dickerson in him, in that Addai runs notably upright, that his cuts are seamless and his feints effortless.
I'm a little concerned about his running style. Upright runners tend to get hurt more. Runners that stay low to the ground stick around longer. Still, his ability to quickly adapt and learn are going to take him far in this offense. And his pass catching skils have already won universal praise.

But there is another weapon in Joseph's arsenal that could, potentially, add a missing component to an already powerful Colts offense. Lenny touched on it in the previous paragraph, and Polian explains it further:

Said Polian, on draft day, of Addai's "suddenness" when he breaks into the secondary: "He's what we haven't had here in a while in terms of taking an eight-yard run that's blocked (well) and turning it into a 22-yard run. He can do that."
Addai's ability to break long runs could add an extra dimension to this offense not seen since Marshall Faulk. I loved Edgerrin James when he played for the Colts. He was the best back the Colts have ever had, in Indianapolis or in Baltimore. However, he had no "long speed." When Edge got into the secondary, he had no extra gear to get him past those puny corners and safeties. He had tremendous quickness, great lateral movement, and excellent vision. But he possessed no breakaway speed.

Addai has that extra gear. If a play is blocked well, he can take it the distance, adding a big play factor to the running game. Despite all of Addai's physical gifts, it's his modesty and his work ethic that is endearing him to many Colts fans. He has no plans to take vacation after camp. He says he has many things to work on, as he is seemingly awe-struck by the caliber of talent the Colts have surrounding him and doesn't want to let any of them down. What does Joseph plan to work on?

If he is not quite awe-struck by Manning, and by the surroundings in general here, Addai still is adapting to his new environment. His brother, Jeffery, a student at Texas A&M, instructed him to return home from the minicamp and organized team activities that follow it with one key bit of inside information: how Manning became so adroit at play-action fakes.

"I'm watching closely to see how he does it," Addai said. "And I'm sure that (Manning) and everyone else here is watching me pretty close, too, to see how I do."
We at Stampede Blue thank Lenny for this information. As we suspected, Polian may have found another late-first round baller. As a token of good faith, we will refrain from any comments that ridicule Mr. Pasquarelli for the period of one week, starting now.