INDIANAPOLIS — Javarris James has played the name game his entire life. There was high school and college, and now the NFL rookie must do it again in, of all places, Indianapolis.
No, the younger James doesn't mind following his older cousin, Edgerrin, in another old stomping ground — as long as he gets a shot to carve out his own niche as a Colts running back.
“You've just got to learn to deal with it,” James said as Indy's rookie mini-camp opened this weekend. “When you go through it all this time, I understand what it takes. You know, Edgerrin did a lot of great things.”
He became the Colts' career leading rusher, helped lead Indy back to NFL prominence and formed a surprisingly strong bond with this Midwestern city.
Signing another member of the James family has rekindled those fond memories and created hope among some fans that the next James in the family line can bring back the old magic. It's asking a lot, since they're hardly carbon copies.
Javarris comes to Indy as an undrafted free agent, not a first-round draft pick like Edgerrin in 1999.
Edgerrin left school after his junior year, had a starting job in the NFL at age 21 and won NFL rushing titles in his first two pro seasons. Javarris is already behind two first-round draft picks on the depth chart and may have to beat out Michigan's career rushing leader, Mike Hart, to win a roster spot.
James' top priority: Being on the active roster when he turns 23 in September. But the younger James has already gotten an inside look at the Colts and, thanks to his cousin, knows four-time MVP Peyton Manning.
Now Javarris will try to create the same excitement, the same bond, the same numbers that his cousin did in Indy by putting his own stamp on it.