Patriots notebook

Addai finds a happy place

Ex-Colt excited for opportunity

Wes Welker was on the ball during practice at Gillette. Wes Welker was on the ball during practice at Gillette. (Robert e. klein/for The Globe)
By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / May 25, 2012
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FOXBOROUGH - Joseph Addai faced the Patriots five times while a member of the Colts, getting a close look at one of the best recent rivalries in the NFL. The running back’s most productive game came in 2007, when he rushed for 112 yards and added 114 receiving in a 24-20 Patriots win, part of their unbeaten regular season.

Now Addai is on the other side, joining the Patriots May 5 after the Colts cut him loose. He’ll welcome his former teammates in a game Nov. 18 at Gillette Stadium - assuming he’s on the team - and healthy.

He plans on being both.

“It’s a great opportunity for me,’’ Addai said Thursday, after participating in his new team’s offseason training activity on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. “Playing against them over the years, I know I’ve come to a good organization. It’s been smooth and everybody is helping me get acclimated, so I’m excited being a Patriot now. I think the future is going to look good.’’

Addai was on the Patriots’ radar in 2006, when they used their first-round draft pick (No. 21 overall) on running back Laurence Maroney. Addai went nine picks later, to the Colts.

His best two years, at least so far, were his first two. He eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards in 2006 and 2007 for Indianapolis, but has seen his carries drop rather significantly since then. He had just 116 rushes in 2010, when he was limited to eight games because of a shoulder injury, and 118 last season, playing in 12 games despite a hamstring injury.

“The only thing I can do is move forward,’’ Addai said. “I feel good at this time.’’

If Kevin Faulk doesn’t return, the 29-year-old Addai will be the veteran member of the running corps, which includes Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, and fellow Louisiana State product Stevan Ridley.

Going from a pass-happy offense when Peyton Manning was leading the Colts to a pass-happy offense with the Patriots and Tom Brady, Addai should fit right in. It’s part of what brought him to New England.

“There are always other teams,’’ he said. “For me, I think the Patriots were the best fit. As far as what they do, they do a lot on the offensive side of the ball and I see myself really fitting in. It was a smooth transition coming from Indy to here.’’

Well attended

Nearly the entire roster participated in Thursday’s “voluntary’’ workout. Those missing included offensive linemen Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, and Brian Waters, linebacker Tracey White, tight end Daniel Fells, and receiver Anthony Gonzalez. A few Patriots - tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Brandon Spikes, and rookie defensive back Nate Ebner - were present but limited to conditioning drills. Defensive lineman Myron Pryor was spotted walking around the practice field, but also did not participate.

Value in versatility

Devin McCourty, who fluctuated between cornerback and safety near the end of last season, lined up exclusively at cornerback Thursday. But if you know the Patriots, check back the next day, because he might be lining up somewhere else.

“Being comfortable comes with the experience and the time doing it. So whatever position it is, corner, safety, nickel, dime, anything, you know, the more reps I do on anything I’ll get comfortable with and be able to play,’’ McCourty said. “Being able to look at the field from a different view, different angle, seeing things different, it actually gave me a chance to learn even more of the defense.

“Being at safety last year, you’re the quarterback of the defense. So I learned a lot. The biggest thing for me now is taking what I learned from my rookie year, last year, what I’m learning this offseason, and trying to put it together and get better each day.’’

Cole on fire

Among the highlights (and lowlights) from Thursday’s OTA: Cornerback Marquice Cole made a nice interception on an underthrown pass by Ryan Mallett . . . Chad Ochocinco struggled, jumping offside before the snap during the middle of the workout and running a lap as punishment. Earlier, Deion Branch had to tell Ochocinco where to line up on another offensive play . . . Dont’a Hightower and Jake Bequette, the only draft picks still not signed, were on the field, since rookies don’t have to be under contract to participate . . . Taking advantage of a rare Red Sox off day, Kevin Youkilis was in attendance, watching his new brother-in-law, Tom Brady. Youkilis chatted up coach Bill Belichick during practice.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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