AFC South: Billl Polian
|In addition to being threats running the ball, rookie running backs Steve Slaton (left) and Chris Johnson have picked up blocking schemes which allows them to stay on the field more.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky
As an undrafted rookie in 2001, he got a sense rather quickly that his running skills could translate.
But the other responsibilities, like blocking?
"I remember when I first got here and then I left and went back home for that little break, I told my family, 'I might be the dumbest football player ever in the world, because I do not know any of this,'" Rhodes said. "It's hard, it was overwhelming for me.
"Because I had never really been introduced to the game like that. It took me a little while and I finally started picking it up right before training camp and as I got in the games more and more and more and then by my second year it was pretty easy for me."
The Colts have a long history of plugging in rookie running backs and expecting them to accomplish what Rhodes identifies as priority No. 1: "All they care is if you are picking up the blocks and 18 isn't getting hit."
Helping protect No. 18 -- that's Peyton Manning, in case you're not a numbers person -- is a big part of an Indianapolis running back's job.
Now two explosive rookie running backs in the AFC South, Chris Johnson in Tennessee and Steve Slaton in Houston, have emerged as players their teams have a hard time taking out of the game on third down. But weapons that might get the ball on those plays first have to prove capable of protecting the quarterback.
If not ...