Colts running back Joseph Addai expects to return Sunday at Oakland after missing the past eight games with a nerve injury in his left shoulder, the first positive news on the injury front for Indianapolis in quite a while.
"I feel like it's a great chance. I feel like I'm heading in the right direction," Addai said Thursday, one day after participating fully in practice. "I felt good. I didn't set myself back. Really, I'm just happy to put on a uniform and just get back into it."
Linebacker Clint Session also is likely to play after missing the past seven games with a broken arm and a dislocated elbow. Their returns coincide with the Colts losing wide receiver Austin Collie for the season. He sustained a concussion last Sunday against Jacksonville.
Addai has 5,280 yards from scrimmage and 46 touchdowns in five seasons. He rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown against Washington this season before hurting the shoulder.
"He understands all the nuances," coach Jim Caldwell said. "He is very, very smart. He's a guy that can make you miss, but also has power and catches the ball out of the backfield. He's also a very good pass protector."
The Colts average 95 yards rushing with Addai and 78 without him. Indy also has a higher average per carry and generally controls the clock better when Addai plays.
"He brings so many intangibles," Caldwell said. "He certainly does make a difference."
Caldwell didn't say whether Addai would start, or how carries would be distributed if he were available. Donald Brown is coming off a career-best 129-yard performance, and the ground game has been effective the past two weeks.
"A lot of it just depends on where he is when we finish the week," Caldwell said. "We'll get a real good sense of that. After we make that assessment, we'll make a determination on how Joe will play for us."
Addai said it has been difficult to watch the team struggle. The Colts were 4-2 with him, but lost four of their next six without him, before bouncing back to defeat Tennessee and Jacksonville and brighten their postseason possibilities.
"The biggest thing is that you've always got to go back and understand that football does have injuries," Addai said. "Not being able to be out there with your teammates, that's frustrating, but you've always got to take a positive from a negative. The only thing I could do is keep on trying to get better."
Addai was especially happy to see the Colts churn out 155 yards on the ground in their 34-24 win over Jacksonville.
"It's always good when you see us able to run when we're called upon to do that," he said. "Hopefully, it will carry on to the Oakland game. Each game is a confidence builder. We were able to get some runs, get some passes, and be an all-around team, just doing things that we couldn't always do in the past."
Addai said the timing of his return is ideal because wins over Oakland and Tennessee would give the Colts the AFC South title and a home playoff game.
"We're sitting in a good situation," he said. "We're in control of our own destiny. It's always good to have people that's been out come back in. I think it will help as far as trying to get up to that next level, and that's getting into the playoffs."