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Archive for Monday, October 17, 2005

Rams’ Faulk returning to Indy - as enemy

October 17, 2005

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— 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 tonight.

"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.

Only a handful of Faulk's former teammates remain on the Colts roster - Manning, tackle Tarik Glenn, 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."

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