The Colts inking free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw has changed many media members' opinions on expectations for Indianapolis in 2013.
Ahmad Bradshaw would cement #Colts as new AFC South favorites in my mind. Already thought they were grabbing driver's seat in that division.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) June 6, 2013
However, the reality is that Bradshaw is an injury prone back.
Important Note: Injury prone is not the same as "weak" or "frail."
It just means that the player in question has a hard time avoiding or healing quickly from injuries. No one will ever confuse Bradshaw as anything other than one tough son of a...
... well, I'll let former New York Giants center Shaun O'Hara finish that sentence:
"@nflcolts: @ahmadbradshawtwitter.com/nflcolts/statu…"-Colts just got 1 of toughest SOBs & angriest RBs(in a good way) I have ever played w/— Shaun O'Hara (@ShaunOHara60) June 11, 2013
Tough. Angry. Hard-nosed. Dedicated. Punch-you-in-the-mouth. All these words and terms have been used to describe Bradshaw's personality and playing style. Having lived in New York for over a decade, and having watched Bradshaw play almost every Sunday since he was drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft, I can vouch for their authenticity. Bradshaw is a stud. No doubt. No question.
What is in question is his short and long-term health. As Big Blue View's Ed Valentine told me in an email last week:
The problem is Bradshaw's feet. I have lost track of the number of times he has broken bones in his feet or had surgeries to repair them -- and he had another one this offseason. He will give the Colts everything he has. The question is how much his feet will allow him to give? And for how long?
At the Colts open minicamp practice on Wednesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bradshaw was in attendance, but seen in a walking boot.
More bradshaw #colts pic.twitter.com/girvCmERyL— Kareem Copeland (@kareemcopeland) June 12, 2013
Head coach Chuck Pagano told the media on the Tuesday before the open practice that the Colts are going to bring Bradshaw along slowly. He is expected to be ready in time for training camp.
As Andrew Mishler correctly pointed out, Bradshaw's addition does more than just improve a weak rushing attack. He is a complete running back. Probably the most complete back in the league. Had he avoided injuries, he would not have been allowed to hit the free agent market.
Clearly, the hope is that - with second-year back Vick Ballard on the Colts roster - Bradshaw will not need to shoulder the load in Indianapolis the way he sometimes did in New York. I cannot understate just how deadly Bradshaw was for the Giants during their two Super Bowl runs in 2007 and 2011, respectively. He's rushed for 480 yards on 111 carries with 2 TDs in 9 playoff games, averaging 4.32 yards-per-carry. He's also been DEATH to the New England Patriots, rushing for the game-winning score in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium and averaging 4.5 yards-per-carry against them in two Super Bowl victories.