NFL Nation: Vick Ballard

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. Havili, a fullback, gets the edge over Mario Harvey, who switched from linebacker to fullback during offseason workouts.

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.

Projecting Colts starters

June, 30, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- A lot can happen for the Indianapolis Colts between now and Week 1 against the Denver Broncos. Injured players become completely healthy. Healthy players get injured. Projected starters get beat out by a teammate.

But that hasn't stopped fans from asking about what the Colts' depth chart will look like this season. It's July and players, coaches and front office officials are taking one last vacation before reporting for the start of training camp in Anderson, Indiana, on July 23. So for the next two days I'll take a shot at who I think the starters will be.

We'll start with the offense today. We'll do the defense on Tuesday.

Quarterback: Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck

Comment: This is self-explanatory. Go ahead and keep Luck's name there as long as he's healthy.

Running back: Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard, Stanley Havili

Comment: As I mentioned last week when I did position battles, Richardson will be given the first shot at starting because of his talent and the last thing the Colts want to show is that their trade for him last September was a failure.

Receiver: Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Hakeem Nicks

Comments: The pressure isn't on Wayne to be the Reggie Wayne of a few years ago because he has help with Hilton and Nicks at the position, but Wayne is out to prove that he can still produce at the age 35 and after tearing his ACL.

Tight end: Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen

Comment: Allen is a better all-around tight end than Fleener, but he missed all but one game last season because of a hip injury.

Offensive line: (LT) Anthony Castonzo, (LG) Jack Mewhort, (C) Khaled Holmes, (RG) Hugh Thornton, (RT) Gosder Cherilus

Comment: The only position really up in the air at the moment is left guard. Mewhort currently has the edge because Donald Thomas didn't take part in offseason workouts and he moved ahead of Lance Louis during organized team activities (OTAs).
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a pair of eyes constantly peeking out from the Indianapolis Colts' indoor practice facility onto the outdoor practice field during the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.

Bush
Wayne
Those eyes belonged to veteran receiver Reggie Wayne.

Wayne, as expected for months, is not taking part in the team's minicamp because he's still working his way back from a torn ACL, suffered in Week 7 last season.

"He was ready to run in there right at the end of that team drill," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He looks great. Again, we're going to have to have plenty of security around him so he doesn't sneak out in pads come training camp time and try to get in there too soon. We all know what Reggie's made of and how he's wired and what his DNA is, and so he's chomping at the bit obviously to get back out there."

So will Wayne, who is determined to prove doubters wrong about being able to return from a torn ACL at age 35, be ready for training camp at the end of July?

"I'd be shocked, I'd be shocked if he wouldn't be," Pagano said.

Wayne isn't the only Colts' player trying to return from a season-ending injury suffered last year. Running backs Vick Ballard (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), offensive lineman Donald Thomas (quad/bicep) and tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) all had their seasons cut short.

Bradshaw and Allen are taking part in the minicamp. Ballard and Thomas are headed in the right direction with their rehab, according to Pagano.

"We're anticipating having most of those guys," Pagano said. "There may be one or two out of that group that might have to start on PUP, but our guys, Dave Hammer and the crew and our doctors are optimistic that none of those guys will have to."
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts starting safety LaRon Landry wasn't required to take part in the team's organized team activities because they're voluntary. The three-day mandatory minicamp is the only time players are required to report to the team's facility.

Three days.

But Landry was not on the field for the first day of minicamp Tuesday.

Landry
The reason?

He hadn't undergone the required physical yet. This isn't a new physical that's being required, but it's the same physical veteran players are required to take before minicamp every year.

“(Monday night) we had an administrative meeting,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “(You) can't do any football first day. Every single vet on the football team, except the rookies have to go do physicals.”

Landry, by the way, was the only veteran player who did not take part in minicamp Tuesday because he didn't take his physical. He's also the only player not to be in facility during the offseason. Landry doesn't work out with the team during the offseason because he prefers to work out on his own. He's one of the more fit players in the NFL, but it's more than about being in shape.

Landry's about to have a new starting safety playing alongside of him, the Colts struggled as a defensive unit last season and Landry didn't have a great first season with the team. He missed four games with an ankle injury while finishing with 96 tackles and no interceptions.

“LaRon works as hard as anybody, wished it was here most of the time,” Pagano said. “I know that he's working. He probably does too much.”

As far as other players who missed Tuesday's session, defensive lineman Cory Redding was excused to tend to a family matter. Cornerback Vontae Davis has a groin injury and Pagano said safety Delano Howell is dealing with a soft tissue injury without going into specifics.

As expected, receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), running back Vick Ballard (knee) and offensive lineman Donald Thomas (quad, bicep) also didn't take part.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The final significant days of the offseason for the Indianapolis Colts (outside of when commissioner Roger Goodell disciplines owner Jim Irsay) starts Tuesday at the team's facility when they begin the first of three days of mandatory minicamp before breaking up for the final time prior to reporting for training camp July 23.

Let's take a look at several things to pay attention to during the camp:

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SportsThe competition at running back, including Trent Richardson, won't be decided in this week's mandatory minicamp.
Offensive line battle: You can go ahead and put Khaled Holmes down as the starting center, but with Donald Thomas (quad, bicep) still working his way back, the starting guard positions could end up taking some time. Hugh Thornton, who took Thomas's spot after he was injured last season, has been working with the first team at right guard during organized team activities. Lance Louis had been working with the first team at left guard, but rookie Jack Mewhort, the Colts' second-round pick, moved ahead of him last week. The competition will intensify during training camp.

Running back competition: Just like the battle for the starting guard position, we won't get full competition for the starting running back position because Vick Ballard (knee) isn't expected to take part, as he's still working his way back from ACL surgery. Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw, the other two primary candidates, both wore red non-contact jerseys during OTAs. So this is another competition that won't pick up until training camp. All three players will get playing time, but keep in mind that coach Chuck Pagano said earlier in the offseason they want a workhorse in the backfield.

Landry sighting: Safety LaRon Landry has been the most significant healthy player missing during OTAs. It's not required for players to attend OTAs and Landry prefers to work out on his own during the offseason. But it still would have been good if he would have popped in for some of the workouts because of the need for improvement for the defense, the transition from a seasoned veteran in Antoine Bethea to possibly Delano Howell, who lacks significant experience, and Landry simply didn't have a great first season with the Colts. The offense, as long as Andrew Luck is the quarterback, will be fine. He's shown he can be effective even without good blocking. The same can't be said about a defense that finished 20th in the league last season.

The Bjoern factor: The fact linebacker Robert Mathis (suspension) won't be with the Colts the first four games of the season has definitely sunk in. Now it's up to second-year player Bjoern Werner, who gets the first shot to start in Mathis's absence, to prove he was worth the Colts selecting him in the first round after an inconsistent rookie season. "This year it's just knowing the defense and to feel comfortable in the defense," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. "Now it's just his ability to get to the passer, which it's kind of you want him to do that in these OTAs, but he's never really going to get there because you don't have the pads on. But he's been doing a great job at least from the calls and signals and getting everything lined up and knowing exactly what he's supposed to do. It's a great situation for him."

Can Adams help: The Colts signed veteran safety Mike Adams over the weekend to take Corey Lynch's spot on the roster after placing him on injured reserve. Howell is leading the race to start, but Adams has started 73 games in his career. The question about Adams is: Does he have enough left in his 33-year-old body to help the Colts and possibly supplant Howell as the starting safety alongside Landry?

Who won't be there: Barring a sudden change of events, here are the players -- not including those on injured reserve -- you won't see taking part in minicamp. Receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), Ballard (knee) and Thomas (quad, bicep).

Bradshaw cleared to practice

June, 4, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- It didn't take long for Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw to return to the field with his teammates.

Bradshaw
Bradshaw, who did not take in the team's OTA session last week, was back practicing Wednesday, albeit wearing a red non-contact jersey. He was cleared to participate in OTAs late last week. Bradshaw underwent neck surgery last season after injuring it in Week 3 against San Francisco.

"It feels good to be out there with my teammates again," he said. "It allows me to work on the timing with the quarterbacks and offensive line."

Participating in OTAs is a significant step for Bradshaw. He dealt with foot injuries the past two seasons, causing him to sit out the offseason programs. He signed with the Colts at the end of OTAs last season.

"It's definitely a different feeling being able to take part in these workouts," Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw's return leaves Vick Ballard as the only one of the Colts' three running backs pushing for the starting spot not taking part in the OTAs. Training camp is the earliest that Ballard will be back on the field because he's still working his way back from a torn ACL, suffered in practice prior to Week 2 last season.
Richardson
INDIANAPOLIS -- Having quarterbacks wear red jerseys during practices is not an uncommon thing because they have to be handled with care. But Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson also had a red jersey during Thursday’s organized team activities (OTAs) session.

Richardson said the jersey is a precaution after he had surgery on his shoulder earlier this year.

"I'm feeling pretty good, it’s just up to the coach on whenever I should take the jersey off," Richardson said.

Richardson, who is trying to bounce-back from a disappointing first season with the Colts, was limited in running, which is why he put on some unnecessary weight. He recently dropped 15 pounds and is down to his ideal playing weight of 225 pounds. He said he weighed around 230 pounds last season.

Richardson, who lost his starting spot to Donald Brown last season, is working with the first team during OTAs. Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw, the two players he’s competing with for the starting position, are not taking part in OTAs.
INDIANAPOLIS -- A common phrase used by the Indianapolis Colts last season was: power running game.

They had do-everything quarterback Andrew Luck, but they insisted on a being a run-first team. The only sign of that working happened in their Week 3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Injuries and lack of running game from Trent Richardson and Donald Brown forced the Colts to basically become a no-huddle offensive team by the end of the season.

They started the season mixing in some two-back sets. They ended it basically using one-back, one-tight-end, three-receiver sets.

Luck
New season, new mind frame from offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

"We’re going to be a score-first team," Hamilton said. "We’re going to do whatever we need to do to score one more point than our opponent."

Don’t kid yourself; Hamilton won't allow Luck to drop back in the pocket and fling the ball downfield -- even if he does have plenty of weapons at his disposal -- 50 times per game. The Colts will still run the ball, which is why they have three backs they think will carry the load.

But as Hamilton said, it’s all about scoring more points than the opponent, and that likely will end up being with Luck doing what he does best: using his arm.

The Colts threw the ball 582 times and ran it 409 times last season.

"Our mentality has not changed; we have to be physical at the point of attack. We have to try and knock people off the ball and wear them down physically," Hamilton said. "We have to have a sense of balance and still have a physical mentality, make up going into games so we can wear our opponents down how we see fit."

Hamilton had an opportunity to leave the NFL to become the head coach at Vanderbilt, but he decided to return to the Colts because he believes in the product they have in the organization. He’s back for Year 2 as an NFL offensive coordinator, and instead of being forced to dig deep into the playbook to find plays to suit their offensive personnel, Hamilton should have a cupboard full of healthy players next season barring any setbacks with their return from injuries.

By Week 7 last season, the Colts were without tight end Dwayne Allen, guard Donald Thomas, running backs Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw and receiver Reggie Wayne for the season. Those players were replaced by Jack Doyle, Weslye Saunders, Hugh Thornton, Brown, Richardson, Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen.

No offense to those players, but that’s a drop-off for Hamilton, who at times made some questionable play calls to work with.

Things should be different this season for him and the Colts.

"Not only do we have some guys that are proven playmakers in the National Football League, but we have an opportunity to build on what we accomplished last year and hopefully take that next step," Hamilton said. "It’ll be great to have Reggie, Dwayne and all those guys available to see if we can go out and accomplish our ultimate goal.

"The toughest part [of last season] was making sure that we had the packages available to accommodate the personnel changes that were made from week to week. When I say personnel changes, I’m talking about the attrition, the attrition that we had to deal with. Other than that, it wasn’t tough. When you have Andrew Luck, that really gives you an ability to adapt to whatever the circumstances are and have a chance to be successful."

Colts offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Indianapolis Colts' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeVontae Davis
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Colts moved quickly in free agency to retain talented CB Vontae Davis.
Best move: The Colts couldn't let cornerback Vontae Davis walk in free agency. Not after giving up a second-round pick for him in 2012. Not when they'll likely have to beat Tom Brady and/or Peyton Manning to reach the ultimate goal of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. Davis and Greg Toler (when healthy) give the Colts a solid cornerback duo. The Colts wasted little time -- just a couple of hours into free agency -- in re-signing Davis to a four-year, $39 million deal.

Riskiest move: Center, center, center. The Colts' belief in second-year center Khaled Holmes kept them from heavily pursing another option on the free-agent market. Cleveland's Alex Mack was the best center on the market, but the Colts didn't want to pay the heavy price tag to try to get the transition-tagged player. Indianapolis signed Phil Costa only to have him leave the money behind and suddenly retire before ever playing a snap with his new team.

Most surprising move: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw's time with the Colts looked to be over after the team announced in October he was having season-ending neck surgery. Bradshaw wanted to continue his career, but it appeared it would have to be elsewhere because of Indianapolis' loaded backfield. But Bradshaw's desire to win and team with Vick Ballard and Trent Richardson in the backfield brought him back for at least another year.

Best move Part II: The Colts couldn't risk not addressing the receiver situation. Veteran Reggie Wayne is coming off ACL surgery, and you don't know what you're going to get out of young receivers Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen. Signing former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks to a one-year deal is a win-win situation for the Colts and Nicks. Nicks is coming off a season in which he didn't catch a touchdown pass for the first time in his career, and he's looking to land a nice payday in 2015. Nicks is a proven receiver and gives the Colts another option to go with T.Y. Hilton if Wayne can't regain his previous form.

Luck will have abundance of weapons

April, 24, 2014
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Andrew LuckKyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsThe Colts should enter training camp with a healthy group of skill players, including Reggie Wayne.
INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck isn’t a dreamer. You won’t find him with his feet propped up on his couch at home or fantasizing while he’s flying across the Atlantic Ocean to a soccer match in Europe thinking about the plethora of offensive weapons he’ll have at his disposal next season.

It’s understandable that the Indianapolis Colts quarterback doesn’t want to look too far ahead after what he went through last season.

So we’ll look ahead for Luck.

The third-year quarterback led the Colts to an 11-5 record last season, despite missing five offensive starters.

Things should be different next season. He'll have plenty of options, more than he's had his first two seasons in Indianapolis.

Receiver Reggie Wayne (knee), tight end Dwayne Allen (hip), running backs Vick Ballard (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) are expected to be healthy, and the Colts added depth at receiver by signing former New York Giant Hakeem Nicks, who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2010-11.

As crazy as it might seem, you have to wonder: Will there be enough footballs to go around for everybody?

Nicks
"It's a good problem to have," coach Chuck Pagano said. "There's only one football. When you have great competitors and great players like we have, they all want the rock at the same time. They all certainly know you only have one football. It's a great situation that we have getting those guys back, getting Dwayne back, Ahmad, Vick, Reggie and then adding Hakeem. It's a great situation."

It is a great situation, especially when you take into consideration how quickly bodies went down last season for the Colts.

Allen in Week 1. Ballard in between Weeks 2 and 3. Bradshaw in Week 3. Wayne in Week 7.

It got to the point where it wasn't embarrassing to have to do a quick Internet search for players such as receiver Da'Rick Rogers and tight end Weslye Saunders.

Luck still managed to do a lot with a little last season. The Colts averaged 24.4 points, which was 14th in the league, so there is no doubt he can be even more effective with a full cupboard.

That is a scary thought for opposing defensive coordinators.

"It's all about us being on the same page and with the same agenda, and that's winning," Wayne said. "It's always been about that inside our locker room, and that's why I don't see it being a problem."

Egos are something the Colts don't have to worry about when it comes to who is getting the most attention from Luck. That is part of the reason they have made the playoffs each of Luck’s first two seasons. He and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton will make sure everybody is involved in the offense in some way.

All of Luck's weapons bring something different, which is why the potential of this offense is even more promising.

Wayne is a possession receiver, that security blanket Luck can go to no matter the situation. Hilton is the cocky, speedy player who has no problem letting the defensive backs know when he's made a play on them. Wayne described Nicks as a receiver nobody can cover one-on-one.

The tight end group of Coby Fleener and Allen, the better of the two, has the potential to become one of the top duos in the league. You also can’t forget about the running back trio of Trent Richardson, Ballard and Bradshaw. They don’t have to be dominant, just effective enough to ease some of the pressure on Luck.

"There’s going to be enough [balls to go around]," Hilton said. "We’re a team, so when one guy is having fun, then we all have fun. As long as we're winning and doing the right things, we should be good."

The key, of course, is everybody remaining healthy, and the offensive line has to do its part for the first time with Luck under center. The line will have questions again because Khaled Holmes, who only played 12 snaps last season, has the inside track to be the team's starting center.

That is why Luck and others aren't getting ahead of themselves with the expectations of having an offense that can keep up with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, who led the league in scoring at almost 38 points a game last season.

“On paper, we look great. I’m very excited,” Allen said. “I’m really eager to get us all out and together and moving around to see how well we mesh together, and see what different combinations the coaches come up with to put on the field.”
Andrew LuckElsa/Getty ImagesWith an improved running game, the Colts won't have to rely on Andrew Luck to save each game.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was one of those moments that could easily send chills up your spine or cause you to break out in goose bumps as the words came out of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano's mouth early Tuesday morning, as the sun was still making its way up in Central Florida.

The Colts have a quarterback -- a pretty a darn good one, I must say -- who has consistently proven in just two short seasons that he has everything it takes to lead a team that has dealt with on- and off-the-field adversity.

Arm? Check.

Mobility? A hidden talent of his.

Mental toughness? There's no question he has that.

The results prove it. Twenty-two regular-season victories. An AFC South division title. A playoff victory.

Enter Pagano.

"From a mindset standpoint, it all starts with running the ball and stopping the run," the coach said in between sips of his coffee. "We do have a great quarterback, with a great arm and he has weapons to throw to. Certainly we understand that and we know that."

Pagano also added that they'll continue to emphasize running the ball, "until they run me out of there."

The Colts will run the ball, especially with three running backs -- Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw -- who have all been starters at some point in their careers. But don't be mistaken about what Pagano said, Luck will still drop back in the pocket and fling the ball downfield more than he hands it off. That's their best chance to win.

There are legitimate question marks about the Colts' top three running backs next season.

Ballard is coming off a torn ACL. Bradshaw needs to prove he can stay healthy. Richardson, well, simply put, he's still a work in progress after being traded to Indianapolis early last season.

The Colts tried to run the ball in 2013. But the thought of them having anything close to a ground game came to a halt in Week 3 when Bradshaw's season ended because of a neck injury. Richardson and Donald Brown simply didn't get the job done -- partially because of offensive line problems and partially because of a lack of production from the two running backs.

That left Luck using his arm to bail the Colts out of deficits. They threw the ball 582 times compared to 409 rush attempts last season.

The NFL is a copycat league. What the Colts and 27 other teams saw was the final four teams playing -- New England, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco -- all mixing in the run to go with their talented quarterbacks.

The Colts experienced it firsthand, as the Patriots ran for 234 yards against them in their AFC divisional playoff matchup -- a 43-22 loss.

A successful run game is what Indianapolis wants. Not Luck strapping on his cape to lead the Colts back from constant double-digit holes.

Also, Luck could have his best arsenal of weapons to throw to in his young career with the addition of receiver Hakeem Nicks to go with fellow receiver T.Y. Hilton, tight end Coby Fleener and the hopeful healthy return of receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Dwayne Allen. Throw in a consistent running game -- cross your fingers the offensive line can block better -- and it's the type of offense that will allow the Colts to be successful.

"We're not going to try to do things to make us lose," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "...All that matters at the end of the day is that you make the playoffs and if you can win in the playoffs. We don't want to make it all on Andrew. We want to give him help with our stable of running backs and [with] our offensive line creating those lanes to open up the play-action pass, so it takes the pressure off of him."

Free-agency review: Colts

March, 18, 2014
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Most significant signing: The Colts needed a legitimate cornerback to deal with quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the AFC. They had one on the roster last season and they just couldn’t let him go once free agency started. Indianapolis re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis to a four-year, $39 million contract that includes $20 million guaranteed. Now Davis has to live up to the contract and avoid the lapses he had at times last season.

Bethea
Most significant loss: Safety Antoine Bethea was the backbone of the secondary. He started every game he played during his eight years with the Colts. But Bethea knew there was a good chance he would be playing with another team next season. He signed a four-year deal with San Francisco hours into free agency on March 11.

Biggest surprise: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was the Colts’ most effective running back last season. His days with the team appeared to be numbered after a neck injury ended his season after Week 3 -- not because the Colts didn’t think he could be effective, but because they already had Trent Richardson and Vick Ballard on the roster. Bradshaw signed a one-year deal to return and hopefully give the Colts three effective running backs next season.

What’s next? The Colts need to find somebody to replace Bethea and start alongside LaRon Landry in the secondary. They also need to finish addressing the interior part of the offensive line. A possible guard isn’t out of the question, and they need to determine whether Cleveland center Alex Mack is worth throwing a lot of money at since the Browns used the transition tag on him, and considering Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa last week.
INDIANAPOLIS -- You can look at the Indianapolis Colts re-signing running back Ahmad Bradshaw to a one-year contract in a number of different ways.
  • The Colts are determined to have the power running game offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton wanted last season.
  • Bradshaw
    The Colts need assurance in case Trent Richardson struggles again next season.
  • The Colts need assurance just in case Vick Ballard doesn't regain his form after tearing his ACL early last season.
  • The Colts simply want to have a lot of competition for carries in the backfield next season.
  • Former first-round pick Donald Brown won't be back.

I'm going with all five.

You would like to think Richardson will look like the running back the Colts envisioned when they acquired him Cleveland last September. You would like to think that Ballard will get back to being the player that rushed for 814 yards during his rookie season in 2012. You would like to think Bradshaw can stay injury free.

If, and I mean a big if at this moment, all three players are effective, the Colts will have a nice trio in the backfield. Competition for playing time will also be intriguing. Only time will tell if those things will happen.

“It's the best players play,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said last month at the scouting combine. “Iron sharpens iron. We're still going to beat the drum on that. You guys will get tired of hearing that, but that's just how we roll and how our head coach rolls. We're going to try to have the most competition at each position group and whoever wins that spot is going to be the starter and it's who is going to get us to that next level, which is Super Bowl XLIX and that's the mindset. You're either all in or all out.”

Bradshaw seemed to be a longshot to return to the Colts at the end of last season. But the two sides started having conversations in recent weeks leading up to the start of free agency.

Bradshaw was limited to only three games last season because of a neck injury that caused him to have surgery. It only took those three games for him to be the Colts' most effective running back. His 95 yards against San Francisco in Week 3 were the most yards by a Colts' running back in a game last season.

I talked to Bradshaw in the locker room late in the season and he said he felt good enough to play. That obviously wasn't possible at the time because he was already on the injured reserve list.

Now he's back and ready to compete for carries in the backfield.

Colts GM unsure on starting RB in 2014

February, 25, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Will the Indianapolis Colts' 2014 starting running back be Trent Richardson? Will it be Vick Ballard? What about re-signing Donald Brown and making him the starter?

That question has been asked almost as much as who will the Colts target in the draft and free agency.

The answer?

There is no answer at the moment, and there may not be one until training camp or even up until Week 1.

It's not that the Colts are keeping it a secret. They don't have an answer, either, because the two running backs under contract -- Richardson and Ballard -- are both dealing with injuries.

Ballard tore his ACL in practice early last season, and Richardson had a shoulder procedure after the season ended. Richardson isn't expected to miss any of the offseason workouts, and the goal is to make sure Ballard is ready for training camp at the end of July.

Ballard rushed for 814 yards during his rookie season in 2012. The main reason the Colts acquired Richardson is because Ballard suffered the knee injury prior to the Week 2 game against the Miami Dolphins. Richardson ran for a disappointing 458 yards last season.

“At any point in time you'll know how we do things with the Colts, it's the best players play,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. “Iron sharp as iron. We're going to try to have the most competition at each position group and whoever wins that spot is going to be the starter and it's who is going to get us to that next level, which is Super Bowl XLIX and that's the mindset. You're either all in or all out."

Who starts won't mean much if offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has his way. He wants to have a two-headed attack in the backfield. There are few teams in the NFL -- Minnesota is one of them -- that can rely on just one running back to carry the load.

Richardson had a team-high 157 carries last season and Brown had 102 attempts.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The time of saying “only if” when talking about the Indianapolis Colts' 2013 season and all their injured players has ended.

It’s looking forward to the 2014 season now for the Colts.

Bush
Wayne
General manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano gave updates on their injured players -- and there are quite a few -- on Friday.

Tight end Dwayne Allen (hip), guard Donald Thomas (quad), receiver Reggie Wayne (knee) and running back Vick Ballard (knee) are all expected to be back next season after suffering season-ending injuries last season.

“Coming out of our last medical meetings with Dave Hammer and everybody and our training room and talking to our doctors, we feel like and they feel like everybody is trending in the right direction,” Pagano said. “There wasn’t anybody at this point off the top of my head who wasn’t headed for a return at some time in the spring, or at the latest training camp. We’re hopeful not to have to start anybody on PUP.”

Wayne is determined to prove doubters wrong in returning from a torn ACL at the age of 35. Grigson said he’s been beating everybody to the facility seven days a week.

“He actually just went back [to Florida],” Pagano said. "You can thank the snow gods for that. We had him a lot longer up here than we thought we would. He was grinding. Like I said, he put more time in there than our trainers did. He’s going to go back there for a couple weeks. But he won’t let up on the rehab, I know that.”

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