NFL Nation: AFC South

ANDERSON, Ind. -- The 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 and away went Chris Rainey for not following team rules. 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?


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 only has himself to blame for his mistakes.

Bradshaw has been a positive so far in training camp. He's 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
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:

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


This only changes if an injury occurs.
Examining the Houston Texans' roster:

Fitzpatrick is the starter, and got back the man who will be his favorite target for training camp. He and Andre Johnson spent extra time together Friday night, on the eve of their first practice. Savage isn't ready to start yet, but they didn't draft him expecting that. Keenum is the only quarterback on this roster who was not brought in by new coach Bill O'Brien, but I think he keeps him. Having three quarterbacks prevents you from being forced to start an unprepared rookie in case of injuries. Savage's development is paramount.


Blue, a sixth-round pick, and Brown, a free-agent pickup, will battle during camp to be Foster's backup. That's an important role, given the questions about Foster's health. He's healthy now, but that's always a moving target with running backs, especially those in their late 20s. Prosch, another draft pick, blocked well during the offseason. He'll stick around as the only fullback on the roster.


I had second-year player Alan Bonner on the list, but Bonner left camp with an injury on the first day. Tough break for a guy who spent last season on injured reserve. Martin, on the other hand, has played really well in the first few days of camp and is getting a large share of the punt return reps. The receivers as a whole have looked great.


The Texans kept only three tight ends for most of last season, but they'll need more for this offense.


The only remaining battle on the offensive line is between Jones and Su'a-Filo at left guard. Drafted with the first pick of the second round, Su'a-Filo has starting-level talent, but he missed most of the offseason. Now he'll have to play catch-up; Jones has a head start. Elsewhere: left tackle Brown, center Myers, right guard Brooks and right tackle Newton. Brooks is on the team's active/non-football injury list, which usually means his injury isn't something that should keep him out long. Clabo is a veteran who was signed just before camp and is now focused on making the team.


This is assuming Pagan, a sixth-round pick, recovers from his injury and does enough to remain on the roster. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now. Pagan had shoulder surgery after college. Powe's speed and size were really impressive during OTAs, as was Crick's athleticism. And, of course, there's Watt.


The Texans added two outside linebackers -- Quentin Groves and Lawrence Sidbury -- after Day 1 of training camp. They could wind up on the next version of the projected roster, but for now I'll wait to see more of them. This will be a much talked-about position because of the addition of Clowney, the first overall draft pick. The Texans get versatility from Reed and Tuggle, who can play both inside and outside, and return Cushing, the heart of this defense who hasn't finished the past two seasons. He's confident he'll stay healthy this season. Bullough could make the team as an undrafted rookie, the only one I have on the list this year. Reed raved about him on Friday.


Jackson suddenly found himself the elder statesman this offseason, with Joseph working to the side as he recovers from offseason surgery. Joseph came back for training camp and is on a program set by trainers for how long. Hal is tentatively on this list, but the seventh-round pick could be usurped during training camp. Bouye was a promising undrafted rookie last season and has drawn compliments from O'Brien. Slot corner is another question mark for the Texans. Jackson has played there some.


Lewis, who has played in Romeo Crennel's defense before, started next to Swearinger during the offseason and should be competing against Clemons during training camp to be the team's starting free safety.


Bullock's kicking and confidence improved at the end of last season. He's competing with undrafted rookie Chris Boswell to be the Texans' kicker and we'll get a better feel for how he does as training camp progresses.
Examining the Tennessee Titans' roster.

If all are healthy, Locker starts and Whitehurst is the game-day backup with Mettenberger not dressed, at least at the beginning.

Battle beats Collin Mooney because he can carry the ball and is a good special teams player. Mooney has not seen first team reps in the first two days of camp. Washington could get some touches, but is on the team to return.

Mariani and Preston both making it seems like a long shot to me, but it could happen. I think a receiver who is cut elsewhere at the end of the preseason is signed and on the roster when the season starts.


Walker has said he expects to play on the line more and Stevens is a blocker. Thompson is at a make-or-break point and could easily lose out to someone emerging or an outsider.


A starting caliber tackle is on the bench (Oher or Lewan) and that means Byron Stingily is less needed than backups for the interior such as Spencer and Olsen.


A big fight here is pending with Lavar Edwards having value and Klug being a question at the start of his time in the 3-4. But the Titans are going to have to make tough cuts on the line. Eight defensive linemen on a 3-4 team seems like too much, but GM Ruston Webster has said it could happen.


McCarthy, Gooden and Moise Fokou could be battling for one spot between them. McCarthy is the best football player if he can stay healthy. Year 2 would be early to give up on a third-rounder in Gooden.


The fifth spot could be up for debate, though Campbell is over a shoulder problem he’s had for some time and will be removed from the pressure put on him by former coordinator Jerry Gray, who over-touted him. (That said, his first two days have been really bad.)

Khalid Wooten, a corner who got summer work at safety and could be a versatile guy, might beat Stafford. I was tempted to give fourth safety to a player not on the roster.


A solid guy who had a bit of an off year in 2013.


He has a huge leg but is completely unproven and comes with a risk. The favorite in a competition with undrafted rookie Travis Coons.


There has not been much chatter about a position player snapping, but it still surprises me a team would dedicate 1/53rd of the roster to the position.
Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.


If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.


With Ace Sanders taking a leave of absence for personal issues and then facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, it opens an additional spot. Doss, whom the team signed as a free agent in March, looks like the favorite to get the last spot, edging out undrafted rookie Allen Hurns and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore but he led the NFL in punt return average last season and can step right in for Sanders in that role. I have Taylor beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.


Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.


Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.


This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.


Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).


The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. I thought Sherrod Martin would have an edge over Young and several other players because of his experience (he started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons) but Young has been working with the second unit ahead of Martin. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.


These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.

Colts Camp Report: Day 4

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
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.

Jaguars Camp Report: Day 3

July, 27, 2014
Jul 27
Jacksonville, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.
  • The highlight of the day may have been Denard Robinson's diving catch of a pass from Blake Bortles down the right sideline. Robinson’s hands have been criticized heavily since his dismal performance in training camp in 2013, but the team revealed in the spring that Robinson was dealing with nerve damage in his hand relating to an injury he sustained during his final season at Michigan. Robinson dropped only one pass in nine OTAs and a three-day minicamp and there is a lot of optimism that he can finally become the weapon the Jaguars envisioned when they drafted him. Today’s catch shows how much he has improved now that the nerve damage has healed. Robinson did later drop an easy pass from Bortles but stayed after practice and ran the same pattern multiple times and caught each pass from Bortles.
  • Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny talked on Friday about the need for the linebackers to make more big plays. Outside linebacker Geno Hayes delivered one when he picked off a Ricky Stanzi pass and returned it for what would have been a touchdown. Hayes read Stanzi’s eyes and stepped in front of the pass intended for tight end Reggie Jordan.
  • Rookie defensive end Chris Smith continues to impress early in camp. The knock on him coming out of Arkansas was his height (he’s only 6-foot-1) but Smith knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage for the second day in a row. "He’s not as tall but he’s got good length in his arms and that’s what’s showing up," Bradley said. Smith also had a nice showing in one-on-one pass rush drills. He got by rookie offensive tackle Josh Wells with a spin move and then came back on the next snap and beat him with a bull rush.
  • There were no new injuries. Receiver Cecil Shorts (hamstring), tight end D.J. Tialavea (quad), and linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring) did not practice. Defensive tackle Roy Miller was given a veteran day off. ... Kicker Josh Scobee showed off his leg by making consecutive field goals from 50, 56, and 64 yards. Scobee has made 23 field goals of 50 or more yards in his career, including a 59-yarder against Indianapolis in 2010. ... Cornerback Will Blackmon also had an interception during one-on-one drills. He was running stride-for-stride with receiver Damian Copeland and snared Bortles’ slightly-underthrown pass.


Jaguars Camp Report: Day 2

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.

  • After having an inconsistent first day, rookie quarterback Blake Bortles rebounded with a good practice. His throws were more crisp and on target during drills, but he was really impressive during the two-minute drill. He led the Jaguars to a touchdown in just three plays, completing passes to Kerry Taylor, Clay Harbor, and Damian Copeland. The pass to Taylor went for a big gain down the left sideline. Bortles completed all six of his passes during the 11-on-11 work. “I thought he had a nice day today, especially in that two-minute situation,” coach Gus Bradley said.
  • In fact, all the quarterbacks had a pretty good day. Chad Henne completed 7 of 10 passes during 11-on-11 work. Ricky Stanzi went 8-for-10 and Stephen Morris went 5-for-6. None of the QBs threw an interception. One lowlight: Morris’ only incompletion was on a horrendous pass to the left sideline. The ball wobbled and fluttered and landed about 5 yards out of bounds. It was the worst pass of the first two days of camp but he rebounded with a nice throw on his next pass.
  • The competition at safety will be fun to watch over the next month. Strong safety Johnathan Cyprien and free safety Winston Guy were the starters and it was interesting to see Joe Young working with the second unit at strong safety. The fourth-year player from Rutgers played in 36 games (five starts) with Indianapolis.
  • Injury report: In addition to the news that receiver Cecil Shorts has a grade two hamstring strain and will be out at least two weeks, linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring) and tight end D.J. Tialavea (quad) also left practice. Thomas left the field on a cart.
  • Cornerback Demetrius McCray, who is filling in for Alan Ball (ankle) on the first team defense, had a nice pass breakup of Henne’s deep sideline pass to Allen Robinson. … Rookie defensive end Chris Smith was responsible for one of the six incomplete passes in 11-on-11 situations. He knocked down Stanzi’s pass at the line of scrimmage. … There were 2,133 fans in attendance.


Colts Camp Report: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
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.

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.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If there’s a snake bit position group on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster, it has to be the wide receivers.

Seven sat out all or significant parts of OTAs and minicamp with injuries. Ace Sanders has taken a leave of absence to deal with personal issues and also is facing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Justin Blackmon, who is still serving an indefinite suspension, was arrested last week in Oklahoma.

And now Cecil Shorts -- the only proven receiver on the roster -- is going to be out for at least two weeks with a grade two right hamstring strain. It’s the latest in a string of injuries that have cost the fourth-year player 11 games in his first three seasons.

If I were the Jaguars, I’d encase second-round picks Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson in bubble wrap. Immediately.

The development of those two rookies, who were among the players that missed time in the spring with injuries, has now become one of the most important issues of the early part of training camp. Any setback, particularly an injury, will certainly impact the passing game and as a byproduct affect the development of rookie quarterback Blake Bortles.

Shorts has 123 career catches. The remaining receivers on the roster have a combined 80, so there’s not a lot of experience available. That means Lee and Robinson -- whom general manager David Caldwell said Friday were drafted to complement, not replace, Shorts – are under more pressure to learn the offense and adjust to the speed of the game so they can be significant contributors.

Based on Shorts’ injury history, they both may need to be in the starting lineup Week 1.

Robinson was already working with the first unit on Friday at the X receiver spot. Lee worked in the slot but he also will spend time at the X and Z spots. And while the Jaguars do feel much better about their depth at receiver than they did last season, Lee and Robinson are the players the offense needs to step up.

Mike Brown, Tandon Doss and Kerry Taylor are solid but Lee and Robinson bring the game-breaking ability the offense lacks. Lee caught 248 passes for 3,655 yards and 29 touchdowns in his career at Southern California, including 118 for 1,721 yards and 14 TDs in 2012. He’s a speedster who has the ability to stretch the defense and can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain.

Robinson caught 177 passes for 2,474 yards and 17 touchdowns at Penn State. He’s a bigger target (6-foot-3, 210 pounds), which is something the Jaguars haven’t had at receiver since Matt Jones.

"They're coming along well," Shorts said. "I know it was tough for them sitting out a month, being high draft picks and wanting to play, wanting to contribute. They did a good job of getting back healthy, and they looked good on the first day.

"They understand the game and understand how to study, and a lot of guys from college don't understand that."

They're going to have to progress quickly. The passing game may depend on it.
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.

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.
Jacksonville, Fla. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Jacksonville Jaguars training camp.
  • Blake Bortles had a typical rookie practice: a few good throws, a few decent throws, and a few bad ones. But he ended on a good note, hooking up with Damian Copeland on a touchdown pass on a back-shoulder throw. What impressed coach Gus Bradley, though, was the way Bortles responded to the interception. “[Bortles] threw a seam route with two guys on him and he put it right between them,” Bradley said. “He made a great throw. That tells me something right there: He has no fear of failure and that’s a really cool sign for a quarterback.” Bortles’ biggest problem at this point, other than some fundamentals issues, is consistency, but that’s something all rookie QBs battle. Seeing if he can develop some will be something to monitor throughout camp
  • The day didn’t get off to a great start. When the team arrived at the facility they found it without water because of a broken water main near the stadium. Jacksonville Electric Authority crews worked on the problem and had it repaired within several hours.
  • Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny talked on Thursday about the need for the linebackers to make more plays and make an impact on the defense, and one of them delivered. Nate Stupar picked off Bortles and returned the ball up the sideline. That was one of three interceptions thrown by Bortles, Ricky Stanzi, and Stephen Morris.
  • Receiver Cecil Shorts was pulled from practice because of tightness in his hamstring, but the Jaguars made it through the first practice without any other injuries. ... Denard Robinson made a nice run off the right side and put on a quick burst into the secondary for what would have been a long gain. The play earned Robinson a pat on the rear from coach Gus Bradley. ... Winston Guy was at free safety and Demetrius McCray at one corner with the first-team defense. It’s not surprising to see Guy out there because he manned the spot throughout OTAs and minicamp with Josh Evans (bone spur in his foot) out. It was a bit of a surprise to see McCray out there in place of Alan Ball (ankle) instead of Will Blackmon. The Jaguars have been working Blackmon in the slot, though, so that may have played into the decision. ... Jacques McClendon was at right guard with the first-team offense and third-round pick Brandon Linder was working with the second unit. ... A crowd of 1,652 attended practice.

Colts Camp Report: Day 2

July, 25, 2014
Jul 25
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."