NFL coaches always say they don't want to have any player on their roster that doesn't want to be a starter. The Bills coaching staff doesn't have to worry about the mindset of Dominic Rhodes, who despite having never been a starter hasn't let that affect his approach to the game.
"Always," said Rhodes when asked if he expects to start. "I don't even look at myself ever in any situation as a backup. My mindset is always that the opportunity is there. I compete to start. I don't go anywhere trying to sit on the bench. That's not my thing. I want to stay on the field and play and compete. That's why I play this game. I feel as soon as I put on my cleats for me it's time to go out there and compete and try to be a starter."
Rhodes certainly has respect for Marshawn Lynch's game as well as that of Fred Jackson having watched Bills game tape just before addressing the media Monday on the heels of signing with Buffalo late last week.
"I like the way they run the ball," said Rhodes of Lynch and Jackson. "They're both talented guys. Marshawn he looks like he gets real excited out on the field. Both of them run hard. I'm glad to be their teammate."
But Rhodes has always been forced to prove he's a capable NFL back coming out of Midwestern State as an undrafted free agent.
"Coming a small school and always having these labels, I'm not the biggest guy," said the 5'9" Rhodes. "It's just about the perception that some people might have. For me every time I get on the field I'm an angry little guy I guess. I'm always trying to make myself be felt by everyone. Throughout my career I think I've done a pretty good job of that. I've opened some eyes and people definitely respect me for the way I play on the field. I leave it all out there every Sunday."
While most see Rhodes as a solid fall back option for the Bills running game with Fred Jackson in the season's first three weeks while Lynch serves a three-game suspension, Rhodes again takes a different look at the situation.
"The way I always look at it is once I get in the game I try to give them a reason to not take me back out, and give them a reason to keep putting me back in," he said. "The first three games are definitely a plus and anything after that I'll just be practicing hard and playing hard and showing what I can do."
Rhodes set a career-high last year with 45 receptions and likes what he sees on tape from Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards when it comes to finding his backs in the passing game.
"I love that Trent (Edwards) likes to get the ball to the backs out of the backfield," said Rhodes. "That's definitely a plus and that shows how he's coming around as a quarterback. Most guys want to hit that long pass and even if it's not there they want to force it in there and most times the back is wide open. That's how Peyton's (Manning) game evolved over the years. He started hitting those checkdowns. That's a good thing. It tells you that he's patient and looking all over the field and hitting the open guy."
Ultimately, Rhodes likes the direction the Bills are taking. He realizes Buffalo might not be the caliber of his former Indianapolis team yet, but he doesn't see them being far off.
"I'm excited about this situation where they're putting together some great pieces," said Rhodes. "It's a younger team, but you get a couple of pieces here and there and you knock out a couple of pieces that don't fit what you're doing, or are not even trying to fit what you're doing and you can be in the Super Bowl before you know it."