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Associated Press
Donald Brown leads the Colts in rushing yards despite playing backup to Trent Richardson.

Brown bringing it for Colts

Back steps up play with Richardson struggling so far

– Week after week, Donald Brown has been more productive than Trent Richardson.

And each week, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Brown’s role remains the same for the Colts: He’s a change-of-pace back who plays behind the more heralded Richardson on the depth chart.

Indianapolis made headlines by trading for Richardson early this season, but he hasn’t found traction since leaving the Cleveland Browns. Richardson, the starter, has 96 carries for 272 yards and has caught 12 passes for 116 yards in eight games since the trade. Brown has rushed 48 times for 293 yards and caught 15 passes for 153 yards in the same span.

Brown says he’s in a zone heading into Sunday’s game at Arizona. His 5.9 yards per carry is second among the top 70 running backs in the league in rush attempts this season.

“I feel good, feel confident running the ball,” he said. “Mentally I’m on it. I’m down with the blocking schemes, I understand what the O-line’s doing. Offensive line’s doing a great job, Andrew’s (Luck) getting us in the right plays, and when the first person you see is a safety, that’s every running back’s dream.”

Brown started the season as a backup behind Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. When both got put on injured reserve, Brown was still stuck behind Richardson. Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said Brown has had a good attitude.

“He’s consistent, he’s a pro,” Hamilton said. “He’s never wavered one bit. He’s the first guy in the building and the last guy to leave. His attitude has been great. It’s been extremely positive.”

Hamilton said despite Brown’s success, the Colts will continue to use Brown and Richardson the same way.

“We don’t plan on changing our rotation with our backs,” he said. “We’ve always been a running back-by-committee bunch, so we’re going to continue to do that.”

Coach Chuck Pagano believes in Richardson, in part, because of his success in Cleveland, where he ran for 950 yards last season.

“Trent’s numbers are going to come,” Pagano said. “He’s a damn good player. He’s a damn good back. He hasn’t been here as long as our other guys have been here.”

There’s nothing fancy about Brown’s style – he hits the hole hard and punishes defenders, then he uses his speed to break into the open.

“For whatever reason, he finds a way to create his own yards,” Hamilton said. “We’re excited to watch Donald continue to have that success for us running the football.”

Pagano said Brown and Richardson work well in tandem. Richardson hammers away early, then Brown takes advantage of a worn down defense.

“I think it’s worked out really well to this point, and it just keeps getting better and better,” Pagano said.