Bradshaw, Ballard aim to be lethal tandem

August, 13, 2013
8/13/13
7:50
PM ET
ANDERSON, Ind. -- The first step has technically started -- running back Ahmad Bradshaw being put on the active roster. The next step -- having Bradshaw and Vick Ballard share reps in the backfield -- is likely still days away.

But the vision is there.

Two running backs with contrasting styles complimenting quarterback Andrew Luck’s ability to sling the ball down the field.

One has home run capabilities. The other is a bruiser up the middle.

[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
AP Photo/Michael ConroyRunning back Ahmad Bradshaw said it won't be long before he hits the field for the Colts.
“It’ll be great to get him out there,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said about Bradshaw. “He’s an every-down back. I know he can be a third-down back. I know he can be a pass protector. He hasn’t played in a while. It’ll take him a minute obviously to knock the rust off, but it’s going to be great to have him in the fold and join those other guys and starting competing with those guys.”

The Colts had to take Bradshaw off the physically unable to perform list and put him on the active roster because they had him go through a walk-through practice on Aug. 4, which is a league violation. Bradshaw opened training camp on PUP because he’s been working his way back from right foot surgery in January.

So when will Bradshaw actually put pads on and participate in practice with his teammates?

That’s anybody’s guess.

The Colts plan to bring Bradshaw along slowly for the time being. He won’t play in this weekend’s preseason game against the New York Giants. He hopes to play in the third preseason game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Bradshaw walked on the field at Anderson University halfway through Tuesday’s afternoon practice in shorts and a T-shirt.

He said he feels 100 percent.

“I feel great right now,” Bradshaw said. “I feel I’m ready to go. It’s just a process I have to go through to be ready for the pounding and practices every day.”

The issue Bradshaw faces is familiarizing himself with his new teammates after he spent the first six seasons of his career taking handoffs from Peyton’s younger brother with the Giants.

Bradshaw acknowledged he hasn’t picked up much outside of cadence calls while watching on the sidelines during the first two weeks of training camp.

“A lot of different things, they do a lot of things here and it’s just terms,” he said. “I just got to get that right.”

The goal is to help take some of the load off of Luck’s shoulders. The second-year quarterback set rookie records for most passing yards, attempts and 300-yard passing yards last season.

New offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wants to mix in more of the run this season. Ballard led the Colts in rushing with 814 yards last season as a rookie. Bradshaw rushed for 1,015 yards last season with the Giants. He’s sixth in Giants history with 4,232 rushing yards.

Curtis Dickey (1,122 yards) and Randy McMillan (802 yards) have the Colts’ team record for combined rushing yards with 1,924 yards in 1983.

It’s not an issue at the moment because Bradshaw has yet to practice, but Pagano will have to make the decision on who starts at some point.

Both players have shared the load in the backfield at different points in their career. Bradshaw did it with Brandon Jacobs while with the Giants and Ballard said he’s done it throughout his career.

“I’ve always been that lead back,” Ballard said. “It really doesn’t matter to me. We have one team goal, that’s winning the Super Bowl. Whatever we have to do to win the Super Bowl I’m down for it.”

Bradshaw will likely become the starter at some point because he’s a “downhill, straight-ahead, no fear of dodging type of guy.”

It’s just a matter of when that will happen.

Nobody knows yet.

Other practice news:

  • Bradshaw wasn’t the only Colt to make his way off the PUP list. Linebacker Pat Angerer, who had 146 tackles during the 2011 season, was moved to the active roster Tuesday. He had been sidelined with a foot and knee problem. He had foot surgery in January. “We’ll stick him in some walk-through situations,” Pagano said. “He’ll continue to do most of his rehab and his position work with (director of rehabilitation) Erin Barill and our trainers on the side. As soon as he’s 100 percent and ready to go, we’ll stick him into action, but he’s day-to-day.”
  • The Colts signed cornerback Johnny Adams and linebacker Monte Simmons and waived linebackers Justin Hickman and Quinton Spears. Hickman and Spears were both injured in Sunday’s preseason loss against Buffalo.
  • Receiver Griff Whalen, who is battling to be the team’s fourth receiver, missed practice with a groin injury. He’s day-to-day.

Mike Wells

ESPN Indianapolis Colts reporter

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