Colts try to fix two big problems in NFL draft

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) " The running game was a double problem last season for the Indianapolis Colts, who had trouble both moving the ball on the ground and stopping opposing runners. On Saturday, they may have found quick, strong fixes for both.

They took speedy Connecticut running back Donald Brown in the first round of the NFL draft, the 27th overall selection, then picked 303-pound defensive tackle Fili Moala of USC in the second round to shore up the defensive line.

Indianapolis has six more picks on Sunday.

While Moala's big body could plug the defensive holes next season, Brown gives the Colts' offense more options to put pressure on the opposing defenses.

"We said, 'Here's a guy that fits everything we want. There isn't a thing wrong with him. He's everything we want to have,"' team president Bill Polian said. "He's a game-breaker."

It's a trait the usually high-scoring Colts wanted after former Pro Bowler Joseph Addai and backup Dominic Rhodes each failed to top 600 yards rushing in 2008. Still, the choice was a bit of a surprise.

The Colts also struggled to stop the run and released Marvin Harrison, the franchise's career receiving leader in February. That left most prognosticators thinking Indy would take a defensive tackle or a receiver with their first pick.

But when Rhodes signed with Buffalo in free agency, the Colts decided to go with a younger player who possesses 4.48-second speed in the 40-yard dash. Now the Colts want to see what Brown can do for them, and he certainly has the credentials.

Last season, Brown rushed for a school-record 2,083 yards " the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The junior also averaged 5.7 yards per carry and scored 18 touchdowns, was named the Big East's offensive player of the year and is one of only two players in school history to top 3,000 career yards.

Indy was looking for other attributes, though.

The Colts' traditional one-back formations also require backs to play primary roles in the passing game and make blitz pickups, and with second-year running back Mike Hart recuperating from knee surgery, the Colts needed depth. The only other backs on the roster were Lance Ball and Chad Simpson.

Adding Brown gives them another body and a player who compares his running style to that of former Giants running back Tiki Barber.

Brown, who is 5-foot-10, 210 pounds and a resident of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., believes it's a perfect fit.

"I'm willing to block, catch the ball out of the backfield and run outside and inside the tackles," he said. "If they want me to play special teams, I'll do that, too. I'll do whatever they ask me to do."

The Colts want Brown and Addai to work together.

They're hoping that by sharing the rushing burden, much like Addai and Rhodes did in the team's Super Bowl-winning season three years ago, Indy will have the kind of running game that will put away victories " something they couldn't do in the playoff game at San Diego.

Polian and new coach Jim Caldwell also insisted the choice was not intended to send a message to Addai, who struggled with injuries and productivity last season.

"What it says to Joseph Addai is that you're going to have a longer career and a more productive career," Polian said, implying the tandem tack will keep Addai healthy.

It's the third time since 1999 Indy has picked a running back in the first round. The other selections were Edgerrin James in 1999 and Addai in 2006.

Then the Colts tried to solidify the defense.

They swapped second-round picks with Miami, moving up five spots to take Moala. They also sent a fifth-round pick, No. 165 overall, to the Dolphins.

Moala started 38 games, including 33 straight for the Trojans.

But what the Colts wanted was size. Moala will be the heaviest player on Indy's defensive line next season and possesses the ability and agility to stuff runners and pressure quarterbacks.

"What I provide is athletic ability, strength and I know I have a motor," Moala said. "So I look forward to sharpening my skills and being the best football player I can be for the Indianapolis Colts."

The Colts expect even more.

"What you see is penetration, length in penetration and he can go and chase the play," Polian said. "So he's able to get up on the guard and do some damage in the pass rush. Our best inside rusher has been Raheem Brock, who is the same height, but obviously much lighter."


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