The Bills went out and signed veteran running back Dominic Rhodes after Marshawn Lynch was handed down a three-game suspension from the league.
He finds himself in a favorable position in fighting for the starting job, but is expected to share a similar number of carries with Fred Jackson come opening day
In the meantime, in the thick of OTAs, Rhodes is using this time to learn the playbook.
“I’ve been working hard learning my playbook, trying to be an asset. I’m ready for the season to begin and make some plays,” said Rhodes. “The playbook is complex, but when you get to this level you have to be complex. I’m a veteran so I know how to put things in different categories and learn it that way.”
Rhodes, who had a great year in Indianapolis last season, wonders why the Colts didn’t make it a priority to re-sign him.
“I thought they’d bring me back and I’d end my career there but things didn’t work like that. They said they had three guys, Kelvin Hayden, Jeff Saturday, and me as top priorities.”
Hayden and Saturday were both signed to five and three years, respectively, but the eight-year veteran, who won a Super Bowl with the Colts in 2006, was not re-signed.
“In this league there is no loyalty, that’s how I feel about it. I’m in Buffalo now, definitely enjoying myself and ready to help this team out the same if not more than I did as a Colt last year.”
Rhodes was sent to the Raiders for a season in 2007, then returned to the Colts and rushed for 538 yards on 152 carries in a reserve role last season.
Rhodes told the Buffalo News after he was signed that he never settles for a reserve role, and that he always plays to be the starter. But he knows the Bills are going to be stacked at running back this year and is ready to play his part.
“If you have a good relationship you want to see the others succeed. We have a good running back coach here who knows how to work guys in, who worked with the Giants when they had Tiki Barber and Ron Dayne. I think he’s going to work us in and go with the hot hand most of the time, and just let us go out there and play.
He already said we would get the same amount of reps and the same amount of plays. The guy that’s performing the best is going to get the touches at that time, not everyone has a great week every week. It’s a team game and I learned that in winning a Super Bowl with the Colts. I learned that you have to step aside from your own personal glory to win championships.”
That’s just what the Bills need this year—that teamwork mentality, most notably from another newcomer, T.O. at receiver. Rhodes, who gathered 45 catches for 302 yards last year, was asked how comfortable he is catching the ball in the flat.
“I like to do whatever it takes to help a team win. Me catching the ball, especially in this league, helps a team win. I’ve definitely dedicated myself over the years to running better routes and making sure I don’t drop any passes. Last year, it was evident of the work and Peyton thought well enough of me to throw me the ball, and Joe (Addai) had a great year, too. I can do it; it’s just a matter of getting into the situations. I learned a lot of that Colts offense and I’m ready to bring it here and make some plays in Buffalo.”
Rhodes sounds like he’s ready to prove why he’s been such a productive back in this league for so long. He’ll have his chance at redemption when the Bills play the Colts in the last game of this season, hopefully with their playoff destiny already figured out.
"The way I always look at it is, when I get in the game, I try to give them a reason not to take me out and a reason to keep putting me back in.”
If he keeps this mentality through the season, hard work will not be something that the Bills running backs are lacking.
Quotes from this article were taken from Rhodes' interview with 590 The Fan 6/02.