Dominic Rhodes has run for more than 3,000 yards, mostly with the Indianapolis Colts.

Fred Jackson quickly gained the respect of Buffalo Bills players, coaches and fans as a running back who came from a small college to earn a spot on an NFL roster.

However, Jackson isn’t alone in the Bills’ backfield as a player who took a less- than-traditional path to the top of the football mountain.

Dominic Rhodes is entering his ninth NFL season and his first with Buffalo. He played college football at Division II Midwestern State in Texas and served as a training camp operations intern with the Dallas Cowboys before coming to the NFL.

“He’s a very tough guy, hard-nosed guy,” said Bills head coach Dick Jauron. “We’re glad we have him. He can catch it, is very elusive in the open field and is a veteran. He knows how to play.”

Rhodes, 30, comes to Buffalo after spending seven of the first eight years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts. He signed with the Bills as a free agent in April and adds experience to a backfield that features third-year players Marshawn Lynch and Jackson.

Rhodes is coming off a productive season with the Colts in which he had a team-high six rushing touchdowns. He has played in 96 career games with 33 starts, rushing for 3,114 yards and 26 TDs.

“I’m excited about it,” Rhodes said about his time with Buffalo so far. “I’m always excited about my opportunities wherever I go in this league. I feel like one of the most important parts of my career has been my ability to take advantage of the opportunities I have gotten and making sure I capitalize.”

Rhodes should have plenty of chances to prove himself, especially early as Lynch is suspended for the first three regular-season games.

Rhodes has shown that he can be productive as a starter. He started 10 games with the Colts in 2001 and 16 in 2006 when Indianapolis won Super Bowl XLI.

“He’s doing great so far,” said Eric Studesville, Bills running backs coach. “He assimilated himself to our system and came in and picked it up quick and that has carried over into here. We like what we have seen so far. Now we just need to put the pads on and confirm what we have seen in practice.”

Rhodes played an integral role in helping the Colts win the Super Bowl. He rushed for 641 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season and had 113 yards in the Super Bowl victory. He is one of just two active Bills with a Super Bowl ring.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” Rhodes said about winning the championship. “To have that opportunity, to get there and win it, it was amazing. I can’t put it into words. God has blessed me, I guess.”

Rhodes didn’t come into the league with a lot of fanfare. He signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2001, then suffered a torn anterior cruciate knee ligament in 2002. He recovered from that to play 11 games in 2003.

He left Indianapolis for Oakland in 2007 but returned to the Colts the following season.

“The friendships wherever I went were something I will never forget,” Rhodes said. “In (Indianapolis) I learned how to play football because I was around some great, Hall of Fame players.”

Rhodes took an internship with the Cowboys in the hopes of landing a spot on an NFL team. He was responsible for running errands for the players.

He had a solid career at Midwestern State, producing 13 100-plus yard games and setting a school record with 2,541 rushing yards to go with 29 touchdowns.

“It’s definitely like any other Division II program out there,” Rhodes said. “It was different than the way it is now. You have to be a hard worker if you want to succeed.”

Bryan Sullivan is covering Bills training camp for Messenger Post Media. He can be reached at bsullivan@messengerpostmedia.com.