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Questions surround 3 Colts running backs

3/30/2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts Colts have three running backs with question marks.

The running back situation -- with Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw -- looks good on paper for the Colts, but that doesn't automatically equate to success on the field.

Richardson failed to live up to expectations and lost his starting job after being acquired from Cleveland prior to Week 3 last season. He topped off a disappointing campaign by having shoulder surgery after the season. Ballard tore his ACL in practice in the second week of the season. So there's no certainty that he'll be the same player who rushed for 814 yards as a rookie in 2012. Bradshaw's season came to an end because of a neck injury after he rushed for a Colts' season high of 95 yards against San Francisco in Week 3.

"In terms of worried, I just need them to get healthy," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said.

It seemed like it would be Richardson and Ballard competing for the carries when the season ended because Bradshaw was a free agent. But the Colts and Bradshaw started talking right before the start of free agency and they eventually agreed to a one-year deal for $855,000. Now Bradshaw needs to prove he can stay healthy. He hasn't played a full season since 2010.

"The guy is a warrior, he's a fierce, fierce competitor and I knew once he got the diagnosis, knew what he had to go through from a rehab standpoint that there was no question once the doctor said, ‘You're going to be fine' he'd come back," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of Bradshaw. "That's in his DNA. He doesn't know anything else. He doesn't want to do anything else."

It's way too early to say who will start, but you can expect the battle for carries to be there. Richardson has the most to prove because the Colts gave up a first-round pick in the May draft for a player who averaged only 2.9 yards a carry last season.

"They all love game, they're all extremely physical and they all have a similar trait in the sense that they run angry, they run hard," Grigson said. "They get yards that aren't there. All three of them can contribute in the passing game, all three of them will put their face on you and block on third down and all three of them are team guys."

All three will get snaps, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wouldn't have it any other way as he wants to find a running game to compliment quarterback Andrew Luck's arm.

"There's going to be great competition," Pagano said. "You have to have one guy you call your bell cow, who is going to get the lion's share of the snaps. We have a lot of options there. It's good to have multiple backs."