Engel's Mailbag: Keeper questions

Kris, Arlington, Va.: What do you think of Joseph Addai's prospects for a breakout season in 2007? And is his long-term potential limited by Peyton Manning's habit of throwing near the goal line?

Engel: Addai seemed to improve and become more comfortable as the regular season wore on in 2006, and by now it's apparent he is a very big part of the Colts offense. In the past, during the Edgerrin James era, the Colts threw often in the red zone or used reserve running backs to punch the ball in from short range. James never seemed to be a fully trusted short-yardage runner as a Colt. That likely won't be the case with Addai, even though the bulk of his seven rushing TDs this season came in a four-TD outing against the Eagles. As Addai continues to evolve, he should get more chances to carry near the goal line. He has already rushed for two scores in three playoff games, both from inside the 10-yard line. Addai should become more consistently productive as both a runner and pass-catcher next year, as he will already have one full season to his credit and should continue to improve. Addai could go late in the first round of many drafts because of his promise as a versatile RB who can be reliable and sometimes explosive. I think 2007 will definitely be a year when Addai proves he is certainly one of the best players at his position, definitely a top-10 guy. Addai will be a very busy guy, as evidenced by his 57 carries and 12 receptions so far in three AFC playoff games. Dominic Rhodes is a free agent after this season, and might not be around to steal some carries from Addai for much longer.