AFC South: Indianapolis Colts

Colts Camp Report: Day 6

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
7:30
PM ET
A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:
  • There was a welcomed sight on the practice field for the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday. Running back Trent Richardson returned to practice after sitting out the previous three practices with a hamstring problem. Richardson, the likely starter in Week 1, took snaps with the second unit behind Ahmad Bradshaw.
  • The Colts suffered a slight scare when receiver T.Y. Hilton, who had a team-high 1,083 yards receiving last season, left the field holding his right hand after failing to catch a long pass from quarterback Andrew Luck on his backside in the end zone on a play defended by cornerback Greg Toler. Hilton immediately grabbed his hand in pain and made his way to the sidelines. The medical staff looked at his hand and put ice on it. Fortunately for the Colts, Hilton only had a jammed finger. As far as the rest of the injuries go, tight end Dwayne Allen (precaution), safety LaRon Landry (groin) and cornerback Vontae Davis (groin) did not practice Wednesday. Landry and Davis, who have yet to practice in training camp, did some work in pads off to the side.
  • It seemed the fourth receiver spot would come down to Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen at the start of training camp because they’re familiar with the system. Not so fast. Rookie Donte Moncrief is doing his best to stay in the mix. The Colts’ third-round pick had one of his best training camp practices Wednesday when he made three nice catches, including one for a touchdown. Moncrief’s best catch came when he jumped and came down with the ball with both feet inbounds while being closely defended on the play. With Hilton and Reggie Wayne (precaution) sitting out the end of practice, Moncrief was able to get some snaps with the first team.
  • Speaking of getting snaps with the first team, safety Mike Adams got some extensive time with the first unit in the secondary. Adams is competing with Sergio Brown and Delano Howell to start alongside Landry at safety. Howell had been getting the majority of the snaps with the first team before Wednesday.
ANDERSON, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts have already lost running back Vick Ballard (Achilles) for the season.

The team now must worry about guard Donald Thomas.

Thomas limped off the practice field Wednesday after it’s believed that he re-injured the same right quad that kept him out of all but two games in 2013, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Thomas was clearly upset after he got up off the ground and made his way off the field. He’s expected to undergo an MRI on Wednesday evening.

The Colts can’t afford to lose Thomas for an extended period of time because not only is he projected to start at left guard, he’s also the team’s primary backup center.

Rookie Jack Mewhort, Lance Louis and Joe Reitz are guards on the Colts' roster.

 
ANDERSON, Ind. -- As expected, the emotions were mixed as Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis sat on the edge of his bathtub with his head down in his hands after getting the news of his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

On one hand, Mathis and his wife, Brandi, were excited because they were going to be the parents to their third child, a daughter, Brielle Emma-Rose Mathis, who was born July 19.

[+] EnlargeRobert Mathis
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsIndianapolis Colts defensive end Robert Mathis isn't focused on the past, but is ready to get beyond his upcoming four-game suspension.
On the other hand, Mathis let his team down because he took a substance, Clomid, that's banned by the league.

Mathis released a statement immediately after the suspension was announced May 16 that he took Clomid because he and his wife "faced fertility challenges."

But questions -- and rightfully so -- immediately started about whether Mathis took the banned substance for the strict purpose of helping to get his wife pregnant or if he took it to improve his on-the-field production.

"The timing was wrong," Mathis said. "I cost my team on the professional level. Personal level, I have a lifetime worth of smiles and kisses. I try to learn from it and move forward."

A simple Google search, phone call to a team official or somebody in the NFL Players Association could have avoided this problem for Mathis. He said in his statement in May that he "specifically asked the doctor if the medication he prescribed" was banned by the league.

"I didn't call the right person, ask the right person," Mathis said. "(I) didn't, so take your lumps and just rebound from it."

Mathis played with extra motivation in 2013 because there were doubts about whether he could still be an effective pass-rusher without linebacker Dwight Freeney lined up opposite of him on the other side of him. Mathis talked that about motivation, too, last season. He went from 8.0 sacks in 2012 to a league-high 19.5 sacks in 2013. So it's easy to understand why the question would come up about the Clomid.

Mathis didn't turn his cellphone off or shut his Twitter account down to avoid paying attention to the criticism. He kept his devices on so he could get through the negative comments to read the positive remarks from the "reassuring Indy fans." The criticism that ate at Mathis went away in the "atmosphere" after Brielle was born earlier this month.

"People don't see the position change," Mathis said. "The fact I'm now the No. 1 rusher in this game. People who know the game, the No. 1 rusher, it starts and stops through that guy. Of course there's going to be increased production moved to outside linebacker, but I'm not going to sit here until I'm blue in the face trying to explain because it is what is.

"I apologized for the professional side of it, the personal side of it. I have no regrets at all. I look at my baby's face in my phone every day and I have no regrets. ...I know how people are going to react, know what people are going to say coming off a season like last year. That's human nature."

Mathis, who is allowed to take part in training camp, is eligible to return to the Colts' active roster on Sept. 29. The suspension will cost him about $706,000, but the money is the last thing he's worried about when he's holding his baby girl, who already has him wrapped around his fingers.

"(Brielle) looks at me and sees no wrong," Mathis said. "She don't know how she got here, she doesn't care how she got here. She knows she's here and feed me. That's my job and that's going to be my job for the next 18 years or however long it takes, football will be long gone. She'll be here."

W2W4: Day 6 Colts Camp

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
7:00
AM ET
ANDERSON, Ind. -- The Indianapolis Colts return to the practice field at Anderson (Indiana) University on Wednesday morning after having Tuesday off. They'll have a walk through that's closed to the public at 9:30 a.m. ET then have an open practice at 1:50 p.m.

Here are three areas to monitor Wednesday.
  1. Could this be the day injured players Vontae Davis (groin), LaRon Landry (groin) and Trent Richardson (hamstring) get on the practice field? I'd be more surprised if it happened than if they didn't practice. The Colts are taking the ultimate careful approach with their injured players after they had an NFL-high 17 players end up on injured reserve during the 2013 season. “I think it would be foolish on our part not to be proactive like we were in the offseason and do a lot of research,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “Our trainers, our strength staff, we went to work and we looked at the last two seasons. We looked at 2012, the guys that we placed on IR. We looked at all the guys last year, tried to find common threads, common themes and do everything that we can within our power, again, be proactive so that certainly we don't place 17 guys on IR again.”
  2. Expect quarterback Andrew Luck to have a bounce-back practice against the defense after he threw three interceptions against the unit in practice Monday. Luck probably spent part of his off day Tuesday watching film from that practice to make sure he doesn't have a repeat. “He'll continue to work on his fundamentals and his technique, and work his eyes, and controlling safeties, and moving the defense and identifying the defense and working the cadence. All those things,” Pagano said after practice Monday.
  3. The Colts added running back Phillip Tanner to the roster Tuesday. Davin Meggett was signed over the weekend. The goal is to find the third running back after Vick Ballard (Achilles) was lost for the season. Being able to contribute on special teams is also a plus for those auditioning for the position. General manager Ryan Grigson will continue to turn over every rock until he finds a player he believes is capable of handling that role.
The Indianapolis Colts' attempt to find a replacement for running back Vick Ballard (Achilles) on the roster continues.

The Colts signed former Dallas Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner and linebacker Jonathon Sharpe on Tuesday.

Tanner spent the past three seasons with the Cowboys, primarily on special teams. He has only 56 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns in his career.

The Colts released running back Chris Rainey for violating team rules Monday.

Sharpe had 132 tackles, including 23.5 for a loss, 5.5 sacks and three interceptions, in two years at North Greenville University. He took part in the 2014 Super Regional Combine in Detroit.
ANDERSON, Ind. -- The Indianapolis Colts strolled into training camp last week with a deep group of running backs on their roster.

Several things have happened since then.

Vick Ballard went down with a torn Achilles, then away went Chris Rainey for not following team rules. And, oh yeah, Trent Richardson continues to watch training camp practice from the sidelines.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe Colts hope running back Trent Richardson can have a bounce-back season.
So the depth the Colts had before?

Gone.

Injuries and immaturity have left the Colts with Ahmad Bradshaw, Dan Herron, Davin Meggett and Zurlon Tipton as the only healthy running backs taking snaps in practice.

"We're one less, so those other guys are going to continue to get work," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "[General manager Ryan Grigson] and I, again, will look at the roster and see what we need to do. He's always looking at the wire and who is on the street, to see if we need to bring in another set of legs."

Richardson could help stop some of the uneasiness that's going through the organization about depth concerns at running back by showing he's ready to have a bounce-back season. Everybody's waiting -- and waiting some more -- to see if that will happen.

Pagano hasn't given a timetable on when Richardson will practice.

"We're not going to push these guys," Pagano said. "We've seen guys go down and we're always going to err on the side of caution, you know that. But they're doing better and they're getting really close and hopefully they'll be back sooner than later."

Losing Rainey means the Colts miss out on having a player who could handle two roles on the roster for them.

Pagano knows it, too.

He spent several minutes less than 48 hours prior to Rainey's release telling a story about watching a DVD of Rainey in high school in Florida with his daughter. Pagano saw Rainey's "athleticism, the burst, the speed" in the video. But Rainey failed to take advantage of the opportunity to be the Colts' third running back and return specialist. He has only himself to blame for his mistakes.

Bradshaw has been a positive so far in training camp. He has been a regular in practice -- even sprinting down field trying to catch cornerback Josh Gordy after an Andrew Luck interception Monday -- and he's not showing any signs of having a problem with his neck, which caused him to miss the final 13 games of the 2013 season.

"He looks fantastic," Pagano said. "He has found the groove to make it. We know how tough Ahmad is. We know how he's wired, so I'm not going to be pulling back on the reins. He's one of those guys we have to protect them from themselves. It will take care of itself. He's not one of those guys that will think about what he went through.

"He's a football player, tough guy, hard nose. Love to see what we can get out of him. We are putting the pads on today for the first time so we will find some other things out."

Bradshaw can continue to look good and impress, but all eyes will remain on Richardson.

Colts Camp Report: Day 5

July, 28, 2014
Jul 28
5:15
PM ET
A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:


  • It is not often that the defense will win the battle against quarterback Andrew Luck and the rest of the offense. Monday was one of those days. The defense got the better of Luck and the offense during the two-minute and goal-line drills. The unit picked off Luck three times. “There were some poor decisions by me,” Luck said. “The defense makes you pay when you make bad decisions. I found that out quickly in the NFL. You learn from the mistakes and you don’t want to repeat them in a game. I think on the flip side, offensively we’re putting a lot of pressure on (the defense) to play well as well.” Luck, who is his own worst critic and still a student of the game, used his mistakes to talk to some of his defensive teammates to get their thoughts on why they were able to make a good play on the ball. “If I thought I was fooled I want to ask them about their technique,” Luck said. “It’s fun to pick defensive guys’ brains sometimes. They’ll say, 'Well you tipped me off on that one Andrew because of this.' Ok, now I’ve got to put that in your memory bank and go from there.”
  • The Colts showed their offensive versatility during a red-zone drill when they used a formation that featured receivers Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks lined up out wide on one side and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener lined up out wide on the other side. With both Allen and Fleener standing 6-foot-3 and 6-6, respectively, the Colts will have a height advantage to throw the ball up high to their tight ends against the smaller defensive backs. Luck tried that once on a play when Fleener was defended by safety Delano Howell. He ended up overthrowing Fleener, as the pass went out of bounds. Still, Luck didn’t have those types of options last season. “Coach told us never to compare seasons to seasons because you end up devaluing someone along the way,” Luck said. “So I’m not going to compare it to whatever I’ve played with in the past with some awesome, awesome dudes. But again, it takes a bunch of guys throughout a season and we know that. So the way the guys are playing now, it should be a lot of fun.”
  • Punter Pat McAfee wants to hopefully add kicking duties to his resume once Adam Vinatieri decides to retire from what will end up being a Hall of Fame career. Don't McAfee's ability discredit to throw the football, either. McAfee has often been an extra passer to receivers during drills early in practice.
  • The Colts were scheduled to have a walk-through Monday morning and then a practice in pads in the afternoon, but Pagano condensed it into one three-hour session in the morning. They had a 30-minute walk-through and then a 2-hour practice. The players will have Tuesday off and resume camp Wednesday morning.
Examining the Indianapolis Colts' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
This is the safest position on the roster for the Colts. They plan to always keep a veteran backup if Luck ever goes down with an injury.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

The Colts will have a solid running combination if -- and we’re saying if until proven wrong -- Richardson can bounce back from a poor first season in Indianapolis and Bradshaw and Ballard can stay injury-free. Harvey, who has made the switch from linebacker, has moved head of Stanley Havili to be the team's fullback because Havili is on the physically unable to perform list.

RECEIVERS (5)

The final receiver spot will come down to Rogers and Griff Whalen. If the Colts want to play it safe, Whalen is the guy because he’s familiar with Luck and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, but Rogers has the size and speed the team likes. There’s also the possibility of the Colts keeping six receivers.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Allen, who missed all but one game in 2013, and Fleener have the potential to be one of the top tight end duos in the league. Doyle and Saunders are both familiar with the system after backing up Fleener in Allen’s absence last season.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are plenty of questions surrounding the offensive line outside of tackles Castonzo and Cherilus. The one thing general manager Ryan Grigson wanted with this group is depth. The Colts have plenty of it.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)

Like the offensive line, the Colts want depth on the defensive line so they can constantly rotate in players, so come the fourth quarter they still have fresh legs to get after the opponent. Jones was the key offseason acquisition for the Colts. Chapman showed flashes last season; now he needs to do it every snap that he’s on the field.

LINEBACKERS (10)

All eyes will be on outside linebacker as the Colts look to find a replacement for Mathis, who is suspended for the first four games of the season. Werner gets the first crack at starting in Mathis’ spot. McNary is a player for whom Grigson has high expectations. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky on how he uses McNary.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

It’s anybody’s guess how the secondary will perform. It’s anybody’s guess who will start alongside Landry at safety. It looked like it would be Howell for most of the offseason, but the Colts signed the veteran Adams in June. Can Toler finally remain healthy? Can Davis live up to his contract? So many questions with no answers at the moment.

SPECIALIST

This only changes if an injury occurs.

Colts Camp Report: Day 4

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
5:55
PM ET
A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:
  • The only sign of receiver Reggie Wayne having any kind of knee issue was the ice bag wrapped around his right knee as he caught passes from the Jugs machine after practice Sunday. Turns out the ice wrapped around Wayne’s knee was just a precaution. Besides that, as he hauled in passes during a red-zone drill in practice, Wayne looked like the player who terrorized defenses for many years prior to tearing his ACL last October. He caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Luck between two defenders and another one from Luck that was tipped by the defender. There’s still more than a month before the Sept. 7 opener against Denver, but Wayne is continuing to make steady progress toward regaining his form from the torn ACL.
  • The Colts have been using the term “soft-tissue” issue when talking about why safety LaRon Landry, running back Trent Richardson and cornerback Vontae Davis have not been practicing in training camp. A little more light is starting to be shed on what their injuries are. Landry and Davis are dealing with groin problems and Richardson has a hamstring issue. Richardson isn’t practicing, but he has been catching passes off the Jugs machine at the conclusion of practices. Defensive tackle Josh Chapman and linebacker Josh McNary did not practice Sunday.
  • The Colts signed veteran Mike Adams, who played on a Denver team that reached the Super Bowl last season, in the middle of June to add to the safety competition. But it’s been Delano Howell, who was projected to be the starter after Antoine Bethea signed with San Francisco, who's been working with the first-team defense. Sergio Brown has been getting first-team reps at the other safety position with Landry out of the lineup.
  • The Colts had their first practice in full pads Sunday. The pads brought out the competitiveness. Center Khaled Holmes and linebacker Cam Johnson had to be separated after a play, and then linebacker Daniel Adongo and offensive lineman Joe Reitz had to be separated. During a stretch where he went 13-for-13, Luck was 7-of-7 on red-zone pass attempts.
  • The Colts made a few roster moves Sunday. They waived tackle Jack Breckner, placed linebacker Aaron Morgan on injured reserve and signed running back Davin Meggett to give them an extra body in the backfield since Richardson isn’t practicing and Vick Ballard (Achilles) is out for the season. Meggett spent time with the Colts during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He originally signed with the Houston Texans in 2012 as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland. Meggett is the son of former New York Giants running back David Meggett.
ANDERSON, Ind. -- It’s not a glamorous position. It’s not one that often gets praise; more so it gets criticized when there’s a mistake. But for the Indianapolis Colts, it’s one that will be heavily scrutinized until the position is solidified.

Their run with Samson Satele at center ended in March, and now they’re going with unproven NFL player at the position.

Holmes
Look at Khaled Holmes' college resume and it screams promise. He started 37 games while at USC. Look at his NFL resume and it screams risk. Holmes played a total of 12 snaps as a rookie last season.

Now he’s responsible for making sure he blocks well, the offensive line is on the same page, and there’s a clean exchange between him and franchise quarterback Andrew Luck.

“I think as long as you approach it, look at the small things and the details of it, you don’t get lost in the big picture and having too much pressure put on yourself because that’s going to be there for everyone and every position,” Holmes said. “As long as you’re focused on the details and technique and what you have to do every day, it works out.”

There was no official announcement that Holmes would be the starter. But it became clear after Satele was released and general manager Ryan Grigson elected to sign Phil Costa, who was beaten out by a rookie in Dallas, instead of attempt to spend top dollars to make a run at Cleveland restricted free agent Alex Mack.

Grigson stood by the decision to go with Holmes while talking to ESPN.com and a reporter from the Indianapolis Star during the league meetings in Orlando, Florida, in late March and again during a press conference at the conclusion of the draft in early May.

The questions about Holmes’ ability to hold down the starting position are legitimate after he only played 12 snaps last season despite the problems the Colts had at center.

“There was really no necessity to, to be honest with you,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “We never, even though we had shuffled that line and we had seven or eight different lineups throughout the course of the season, it really was no need at the center spot. With having Samson (Satele) available, Mike (McGlynn) going in and getting snaps and having a veteran guy.”

Holmes and Luck spent extra time working out together, and Holmes passed up vacation time to be with other centers around the league at LeCharles Bentley’s O-Line Performance facility for four weeks in the offseason. Holmes has a 35-inch wing span, which is considered great size for a center.

“He’s a smart guy, he’s a tough guy,” Pagano said. “He understands football, he gets football, he loves football. He’s a gym rat type guy, but he’s got to play. You’ve got to get a helmet strapped on, you’ve got to get in the shoulder pads and he’s got to see live action. Then I’ll be able to tell you more once that happens.”

Holmes is no longer the bright-eyed rookie, roaming around training camp in a walking boot trying to grasp things from the sidelines because an ankle injury caused him to miss most of camp last year. Holmes will only be judged by the job he does on the field. He’s still rough around the edges and is being pushed by others at the position, but he’s playing with confidence and has turned the heads of some of his teammates because of the way he’s taken command of the line of scrimmage. The Colts have four players, including Donald Thomas and rookie Jack Mewhort, on their training camp roster who can play center.

“He’s a completely different guy from last year,” left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. “He’s got a lot more fight and tenacity to him. He’s showing a lot of confidence, which is really good out of your center. I think what’s really good is that he knows what he’s doing on every play. So he can go out and do it on full speed.”

Colts Camp Report: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
7:00
PM ET
A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:


  • Running back Trent Richardson missed his second straight practice as the team continues to take a precautionary approach with him. Coach Chuck Pagano said Richardson has a “soft tissue” issue. Pagano declined to go into detail when asked what soft-tissue injury Richardson is dealing with. The decision to sit Richardson, who needs as many reps in practice as possible after struggling last season, is surprising but Pagano is taking a better safe than sorry mentality to avoid the running back suffering a more severe injury. “I held him out of practice for the most part,” Pagano said. “He’s started doing some things going about half speed and it made no sense really having him out there and we’re going to err on the side of caution. He knows exactly what to do. We want to get him 100 percent before we get him out there.”
  • New Colts safety Mike Adams said shortly after he signed that his goal was to be able to convince teammate Darius Butler to give up his No. 20. Adams planned to take Butler out to dinner in an attempt to persuade him to switch numbers. The move didn’t work, as Butler still has his No. 20 and Adams is wearing No. 29. “He told me he bought his kids the number, he bought his kids the jersey already so I didn’t push it too much,” Adams said. “I just nudged him and every time he made a play I'd tell him, 'That number 20 looks so sweet.’ So that's the only thing, but I didn’t push too much.” So how did Adams end up with No. 29? “I told my daughter that I might change my number and she said get 29 and so I had to get 29,” he said.
  • Ahmad Bradshaw was on the practice field when fellow running back Vick Ballard tore his right ACL in September. Bradshaw was on the practice field when Ballard tore his Achilles on Friday. “I talked to him and he’s in good spirits,” Bradshaw said. “I think he just feels bad that it’s two years in a row. He loves football. His passion for football is there. He’s just heartbroken.”
  • Richardson wasn’t the only Colts player to sit out of practice Saturday. Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Cory Redding, Jack Mewhort, LaRon Landry, Vontae Davis, Gosder Cherilus, Donald Thomas, Henoc Muamba, Cam Johnson and Loucheiz Purifoy also did not practice.

 
ANDERSON, Ind. – The immediate reaction to the news of Vick Ballard’s season-ending Achilles injury is that Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson needs to look outside of the organization to find another running back to replace him on the roster.

Ballard
Grigson is working the phones, but at the same time don’t be surprised if he doesn’t make a splash move like he did last season in acquiring Trent Richardson from Cleveland shortly after Ballard tore his ACL in practice last September.

“Ryan and I are discussing roster mechanics as we speak and we’ll make a decision,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We’ll check and see who is available and what’s best for the team and what gives us the best chance to win and see if we need to get some legs to gut us through camp and try and get someone in here with the opportunity to compete and make a roster.”

Ballard’s season came to an end when he tore his left Achilles during a non-contact drill in practice Friday.

If the Colts do look on the outside for help, some notable veterans available include Ronnie Brown, Felix Jones, and Willis McGahee. They also have time to wait and see which players get released later in training camp.

As far as internal options go, Chris Rainey and Daniel “Boom” Herron will have an opportunity to show if they're capable of being the Colts' third running back behind Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw.

Rainey and Herron got plenty of opportunities to get snaps in practice Saturday because Richardson (precautionary) did not practice for the second straight day and Pagano doesn’t want to overwork the 28-year-old Bradshaw.

“Whatever the coach wants me to do,” Herron said. “I am just out here working as hard as I can just to make the team and help the team out.”

If you had to give the edge to either Rainey or Herron, you’d have to say Rainey has the advantage because of his versatility. He can return punts and kickoffs. The Colts signed Rainey in November 2013, but his season came to an end less than three weeks later because of a foot injury. He averaged 7.3 yards on his four punt returns and 21.8 yards on six kickoff returns.

“He’s going to help us in the return game and that’s going to give him a chance to make this team,” Pagano said. “You can see the athleticism, the burst, the speed. He puts a foot in the ground and gets north and south.”
ANDERSON, Ind. -- The Indianapolis Colts reported to training camp at Anderson University with talent and depth at running back but also question marks at that position.

Ballard
Vick Ballard missed most of 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee. Ahmad Bradshaw missed most of last season with a neck injury. Trent Richardson never found a rhythm after being acquired from Cleveland in September.

Indianapolis' talent and depth took a significant hit late Friday afternoon when Ballard suffered tough luck in practice for the second straight year. He tore his left Achilles, likely ending his season.

There was a sense that Ballard's injury was severe when owner Jim Irsay talked to the media on the practice field shortly after the third-year running back was taken off on a golf cart.

“When you see someone like Vick Ballard go down who's worked so hard to get back, it's tough, but it happens," Irsay said. "... He's still young, and he's got a full career ahead of him.”

It was less than a month ago that Ballard got a hit during teammate Robert Mathis' charity softball game and took his speed to another level as he rounded first base toward second.

Now Ballard faces the tough reality that his NFL career could be in jeopardy because he's torn his ACL and Achilles within 10 months of each other. Both of his injuries happened in practice during non-contact drills. His two injuries easily make you forget that it was just two years ago that Ballard led the Colts in rushing with 814 yards as a rookie in 2012.

As was the case last season, the Colts now have depth concerns in the backfield after they hoped their running game would complement quarterback Andrew Luck's arm.

Bradshaw has dealt with neck problems each of the past two seasons, so there's legitimate questions about his durability. Richardson's struggles have been well documented, and it doesn't help that he was held out of practice for precautionary reasons Friday. If there's a player outside of the rookies who needs to be on the practice field it's Richardson.

The Colts have running backs Chris Rainey and Daniel "Boom" Herron on the roster, but both of those players lack experience. They've combined for 35 carries in their career.

Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson is always working the phones trying to improve the roster. He'll be working the phones even harder now to make up for the loss of Ballard.

Colts Camp Report: Day 2

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
7:00
PM ET
ANDERSON, Ind. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Indianapolis Colts training camp:
  • Colts owner Jim Irsay made his first appearance at training camp practice Friday afternoon. How much longer Irsay will remain around the team is one of the NFL's biggest questions out there. Irsay said, "There's nothing to report," when asked if he's talked to Roger Goodell. The NFL commissioner has maintained the stance that he's going to let Irsay's issues play out before deciding how he'll discipline him. Irsay was charged with one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, a C misdemeanor, and one count of operating a vehicle with a schedule I or II controlled substance or its metabolite in the body, also a C misdemeanor, after being arrested in March. He has a pre-trial hearing set for Monday and a bench trial date of Aug. 28.

  • Running back Trent Richardson, rookie offensive lineman Jack Mewhort, safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Vontae Davis did not practice Friday. Richardson and Mewhort didn't practice for precautionary reasons, according to coach Chuck Pagano. Landy and Davis have yet to practice in training camp. "[Landry and Davis have] got a couple of nagging soft tissue injuries, so like I said before, we're going to be smart with our guys that are coming back off of injury."

  • The defense, which was inconsistent last season, outplayed the offense in practice Friday. Defensive backs Marcus Burley, Mike Adams and Loucheiz Purifoy all had interceptions in practice. The play by the defense followed impressive play from the unit Thursday in which it returned two interceptions for touchdowns. Practice should be even more interesting between the two sides Saturday because the Colts will have their first practice in pads.

  • Irsay did spend time talking about the expectations surrounding the team this season. The Colts have made the playoffs the past two seasons, including winning the AFC South last season. Their goals, like every other team in the league, is much higher this season. "Well, I really think we have the mindset to win a championship and that this group isn't afraid to shy down from the lofty goal that that is," he said. "And with the group we have here and with Andrew [Luck] really being seasoned now and doing such amazing things in only two years, everyone understands the expectations. You know when you have a great player like Andrew at quarterback that everyone's going to set the bar high for achievement. So we won the division, we won a playoff game, and now it's just a question of trying to get deeper. But the first goal, of course, is to try to win the division, and that's going to be tough."
ANDERSON, Ind. – The questions started moments after the NFL announced more than two months ago that Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis would be the suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season.

Who will start in Mathis’ place?

How will the Colts make up for Mathis’ 19.5 sacks in 2013?

Can the Colts survive without their defensive leader during those four games that include matchups against Denver and Philadelphia, two of the better offenses in the league?

Answers for the second and third questions will remain uncertain until the Colts play regular-season games. An answer for the first question is becoming clearer.

Werner
It was no secret that second-year player Bjoern Werner would get the first shot at starting in Mathis’ absence, but Colts coach Chuck Pagano further emphasized it on Friday.

“Bjoern is going to get the lion's share of the snaps with the [starters],” Pagano said. “We’ll get Robert what he needs as far as individual drills. … We’ve got to prepare for reality, the reality we’re not going to have Robert for the first four weeks. We’ve got to get the other guys ready to go and at the same time, we can’t let Robert sit around for four weeks because it turns into essentially what would be an eight-week suspension if we did that.”

Werner took at least 75 percent of the snaps with the first unit in practice on Thursday. Aaron Morgan, Cam Johnson, Daniel Adongo and Mathis are splitting up the rest of the snaps.

But as now, it’s Werner’s job to lose. He had 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season as a rookie.

“He never took a week off, maybe two max, after the season, he was here the entire offseason, long before April 21,” Pagano said. “He’s put the time in from a terminology and scheme standpoint. He’s able to play extremely fast. He knows the defense pretty much inside and out.”

Werner had a strong first day of training camp, intercepting an Andrew Luck pass that was tipped and then tipping a pass himself that led to an interception.

“Last year Rob got all the sacks for himself,” Werner said. “We need some people to step up and get some sacks, too. Put that pressure on the quarterback. If you put that pressure on the quarterback, you’re going to win a lot of games.”

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