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Thread: Stage has changed as Faulk returns to Indianapolis for first time

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    Member Frank Slade's Avatar
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    Default Stage has changed as Faulk returns to Indianapolis for first time

    Stage has changed as Faulk returns to Indianapolis for first time

    By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
    October 16, 2005
    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The RCA Dome may seem unfamiliar to Marshall Faulk.

    He'll be cutting on new turf, dressing in the visitors' locker room and won't hear his name when the starters are introduced. Colts fans have Super Bowl aspirations, not merely the playoffs.

    And nobody can predict how those fans, who once cheered No. 28, will react when Faulk returns to Indianapolis for his first -- and perhaps last -- time Monday night.




    ``I followed Marshall from his high school days down in New Orleans,'' two-time MVP Peyton Manning recalls. ``I remember him on the cover of the prep section one year. He was always real special for me and he gave me some good advice.''

    The memories of Faulk haven't always been so warm and fuzzy in Indy, his first NFL home.

    Indianapolis drafted him with the second pick in 1994, and he instantly became the face of the franchise. In five seasons, Faulk topped 1,000 yards four times, was chosen for three Pro Bowls and led the team in receiving twice.

    But his sometimes eccentric personality didn't always mesh with fans or teammates, and a contract squabble after the 1998 season sealed his eventual fate -- he was traded to St. Louis.

    The deal was one of those rare ones in which both teams got what they needed. The Colts wound up drafting Edgerrin James, whose more physical running style was a better fit in Indianapolis' offense, and Faulk ignited a Rams resurgence.

    In 1999, St. Louis went from also-ran to Super Bowl champion, largely because of Faulk's ability to elude tackles and make big plays. A year later, he was the league's MVP.

    ``I've never seen a running back play at the level he plays at,'' Rams receiver Torry Holt said. ``I remember my rookie season, there were times I was supposed to be blocking my guy on the outside and I was watching him.''

    Since the trade, much has changed.

    The Colts (5-0) and Rams (2-3) have established themselves as perennial playoff teams, albeit with styles that seem tailor-made to their running backs.

    Only a handful of Faulk's former teammates remain on the Colts roster -- Manning, left tackle Tarik Glenn, wide receiver Marvin Harrison and kicker Mike Vanderjagt -- and they remember what made Faulk special.

    ``Marshall was very energetic and explosive,'' Glenn said. ``When you blocked for him, he always made you look good and you enjoyed playing for a guy like that.''

    Faulk, too, has changed.

    Holt considers him an ambassador for the game, even though Faulk often prefers quieter surroundings than interview rooms.

    His quick, shifty legs have been sapped by knee injuries that have forced one of the league's best all-around players into a more limited role. Faulk graciously accepted his role as change-of-pace back this season, surrendering his starting job to second-year back Steven Jackson.

    It may seem an unceremonious ending to a 12-year career that included two Super Bowl appearances and a record four straight seasons with 2,000 yards from scrimmage, but those who know him best don't see it that way.

    ``He's still an asset to a ballclub because of the things he's seen,'' Holt said. ``When he was at the top of his game, he was great. Now that things are winding down, he's still great.''

    Manning credits Faulk, regarded as one of the league's smartest players, with providing stability in 1998, Manning's rookie season. Manning said Faulk helped him learn the intricacies of playing in the NFL, even assisting in reading defenses.

    ``I always felt comfortable with him in the shotgun and, sometimes, he might even tell me what we were going to do,'' Manning said. ``Our No. 1 route that year was the option route to Marshall, and sometimes, it was a little like street ball.''

    Faulk hasn't played in Indianapolis since Dec. 27, 1998, and he may mark another memorable moment when he returns Monday -- he needs 41 yards to move into 10th place on the career rushing list, passing Pittsburgh's Franco Harris.

    But even with Faulk's career coming full circle, Manning isn't about to write the final chapter in his old friend's story.

    ``Winding down? You never can tell with him,'' Manning said. ``He's such a specimen athletically. I've seen, up close, what he's capable of and he still has some burst.''

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_yl...v=ap&type=lgns

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    Hi! pacercoltfan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Stage has changed as Faulk returns to Indianapolis for first time

    Quote Originally Posted by btowncolt
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    Too bad no one can convince Faulk this is the '95 playoffs. Then he'd sit the game out with mysterious injuries.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

    2007 Super Bowl XLI Champions!

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