I preface this article by stating that I am a tried and true Colts fan. I acknowledge that there have been some other significant injuries at camp in the NFL this week besides Vick Ballard. However, Ballard’s injury puts a significant strain on the Indianapolis Colts. More so than Marshawn Lynch’s back up Christian Michael, banging his shoulder. The running back position for the Colts was already a tenuous area on the team; without Ballard the Colts may be in trouble.
First, the skinny on what happened.
Vick Ballard had just been cleared to play. He was warming up running some drills. He looked great, had some decent cut action and then went down. There was no contact when he hit the ground. He was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Now, this is believed to be an Achilles tendon tear meaning he will be out for the season.
After losing Ballard in Week 2 of last season this is crushing news. In his rookie season he proved himself to be starter material. He added depth in the back field and was expected to be an excellent complement to this season’s backs. The two backs in question are Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Richardson was Cleveland’s only real reason to laugh last season. Mostly because he was pawned off on the Colts and was clearly a brick in a box. Meaning that Richardson, the Brown’s third overall pick, was absolute garbage. In two seasons he averaged 3.3 yards per carry. There was no sign of the power or speed that made him such a high draft pick. He looked uncomfortable and made some fairy crucial mistakes.(that fumble in the AFC wild card playoff game against the Chiefs *shudders*). Colts head office made a lot of noise about how he needed more time in the system. Now that he’s had the better part of a season under his belt and time to learn Indy’s schemes he’s expected to perform. With the injury to Ballard that pressure intensifies. There’s no way to know if Richardson can rediscover the talent he displayed in Alabama, Colts fan’s just have to wait with bated breath. There’s no way they can cut those ties now.
Oh, did I mention that Richardson wasn’t practicing that day and was being held back for precautionary reasons?
The other option is Ahmad Bradshaw. Now, Bradshaw has displayed power and speed. In Week 3 he rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown in 19 carries. Unfortunately, he suffered a neck injury .. so that was that for the Colts. He missed 13 regular season games. Injuries have plagued Bradshaw’s NFL career. In his 7 years of being a professional running back he has only played 16 games in one season once. He isn’t a safe option for the Colts. The Colts will have to use him in more 3rd down situations and in the backfield. For now his use is still limited as a precaution.
It will come down to the Colts bringing up either Dan Herron or Zurlon Tipton. Both have seen significant work recently and can now make a push for the roster. Herron is probably more of a shoe in than Tipton considering he has more experience. He performed well in the off season training and also has special teams experience. The third option is bringing up a washed out free agent veteran. Most likely to be voted in due to necessity is the Ex- Steeler LaRod Stephens-Howling. He’s coming off an ACL injury so he’s nobody’s favourite pony but he could help out the team.
There’s no predicting what this season may bring the Colts but the loss of Ballard is a huge blow. Maybe Bradshaw won’t be as brittle as the Colts head office already thinks. Maybe Richardson will get his mojo back and earn the respect of Indy. Or maybe Herron will be the rising star the Colts’ so badly need.
Photo Credit: Fan1130
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