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Colts top pick Addai hopeful of deal

INDIANAPOLIS (July 28, 2006) -- Joseph Addai might already be taking a page from Edgerrin James' playbook -- even if he'd rather not emulate James' prolonged rookie holdout.

Agent Ian Greengross said negotiations with the Indianapolis Colts have progressed to where the two sides have agreed on a five-year term for a deal, while other details, including money, remain unsettled as the July 30 start of training camp nears.

Addai was the Colts' top pick in the April draft and is the heir apparent to James, the franchise's career rushing leader who won the NFL's rushing title as a rookie in 1999 after missing the first 21 days of training camp.

"We're moving along and with each phone call, there's a little more progress," Greengross told The Associated Press. "We're definitely into the meat now, no question. The next few phone calls will determine more about whether we can get it done in time."

The lingering question two days before training camp opens was: How many of the Colts' draft picks will join their new teammates at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute?

One who will be there is guard Michael Toudouze, a fifth-rounder out of Texas Christian who became the first of the Colts' seven draft picks under contract. He agreed to a four-year deal.

Clearly, though, the Colts and agents were scrambling to complete deals before camp opens. Anybody who is unsigned cannot practice.

Adisa Bakari, the agent for sixth-round pick Antoine Bethea and seventh-rounder T.J. Rushing, said earlier this week he hoped both players would be signed before the weekend. It didn't happen.

Rodney Williams, the agent for sixth-round pick Charlie Johnson, said he believes the biggest obstacle has been the Colts' insistence that draft picks agree to four-year deals rather than the more standard three-year contracts.

"I think that's why in the later end, things aren't done," Williams said.

At the front end, however, there has been movement.

Addai is expected to split carries this season with Dominic Rhodes as the two try to replace James, who rushed for more than 9,700 yards in seven years with Indianapolis.

Players typically look for a slight raise over the player picked the year before in the same spot. In the case of Addai, the 30th overall pick, that would correlate with Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller.

In the meantime, Addai has made it a priority to learn the Colts' complex offense.

He attended the Colts' mandatory minicamp in May, the team's summer school program and this week's rookie minicamp. Greengross said Addai also skipped a trading card shoot this summer to work out in Indianapolis.

"He stuck around to make sure he was giving 110 percent so he could be in the best position to do what he needs to do this year and beyond," Greengross said.

If Addai's deal isn't finished by July 30, he would join a long list of recent Colts holdouts. One of them was James, who overcame his holdout to open his career with back-to-back rushing titles.

While Addai certainly would like to match James' success, he'd prefer to start on time.

"It's always been his goal to get in on time," Greengross said. "If it doesn't happen by Sunday, then that's what Monday's for."

AP NEWS
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