The Herald Bulletin
---- — If any member of the Indianapolis Colts has reason to be disgruntled, it would be Donald Brown.
If he was a different kind of player, he might be angling for his agent to leak signs of discontent to the media right now. He was a first-round pick out of Connecticut in 2009, and his numbers improved in each of his first three NFL seasons.
But injuries limited him to 10 games last year, in the first season of the Ryan Grigson-Chuck Pagano regime, and he lost his job as the starting running back to Vick Ballard. In the offseason, Brown was mostly an afterthought.
The Colts first signed free agent Ahmad Bradshaw then traded a first-round pick for Trent Richardson after Ballard was lost to a season-ending injury following Week 2 of the regular season. Brown began the season as a special teams captain but has served as Richardson's primary backup the past two weeks with Bradshaw nursing a neck injury.
Instead of complaining about his role — or even looking to force an exit in the final year of his contract — Brown has been the consummate good soldier. He's averaged a robust 8.3 yards per carry on just 19 rushing attempts, and that's just part of why it was so good to see him emphatically spiking the football in the end zone after scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday against Seattle.
Brown sees nothing special in his team-first approach.
"You just prepare for all situations," he said. "You have to prepare like you're the starter no matter what the situation is. When your number's called, make the most of every opportunity, whether you're on offense or on special teams."
Brown had little game experience on special teams before this season, but he didn't hesitate to jump in when asked. Though that trait hasn't always served him well.
It was his missed block that led to Miami's sack of Andrew Luck on the final offensive play of the Colts' only loss of the season four weeks ago. Fans at that time were incredulous Bradshaw hadn't been in the backfield for such a crucial play.
Now many of those same fans are clamoring for Brown to take away a portion of Richardson's carries.
In the locker room Sunday, the fifth-year veteran told reporters he's happy with his role in this offense. He's a change-of-pace back, while Richardson does the heavy lifting.
As for that euphoric spike after his 3-yard run put Indianapolis ahead against the Seahawks?
"It's just exciting to get in the end zone," Brown said. "Offensive line did a great job. It's not easy scoring touchdowns in the National Football League. So you're obviously grateful when you get in."
In large part because of Brown's class and character, these days the Colts have plenty for which to be grateful.