When Colts running back Vick Ballard went down early in practice yesterday, the early indications were that it wasn't good. That was confirmed later in the afternoon when several people reported that Vick Ballard was feared to have torn his Achilles, meaning he would be done for the year.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed that diagnosis today, saying that the MRI did indeed show a torn Achilles for the back and that he's done for the year. Here's what he said in the opening statement of his media session this morning:
"Good news about yesterday, felt like we had a productive day. Got better in a lot of areas. Bad news, Vick (Ballard) got an MRI last night and confirmed a torn Achilles tendon and we'll lose Vick for the year. He is going to have season-ending surgery. We feel awful for Vick. He's been a warrior for us, going down with the knee a year ago, non-contact injury. Same thing this year, the way he fought, battled, rehabbed, and trained to get back, it's very, very unfortunate. Injuries do occur. It's a part of the game, it's an ugly part of the game. It's a tough pill to swallow. You never want to lose anybody. Vick is going through what he went through last year, realizing that you can rehab and you can come back. That's only going to help him get through this next set of circumstances. As a family and as an organization, we got Vick's back and we're going to help him every step of the way and make sure he gets back to 100 percent and get him on the football field a year from now."
Ballard missed all but one game of last season with a torn ACL, which he suffered during practice in a non-contact situation. This year, he again suffered a non-contact injury in practice, tearing his Achilles. He worked incredibly hard to get back this year, which makes the news even more disheartening.
Bruce Arians is one of those people who took the news hard. Arians was the Colts offensive coordinator in 2012 and served as the interim head coach for Pagano that year too, and B.A. (as he's affectionately known) secured a spot in the hearts of Colts fans everywhere that season. Arians, now the Arizona Cardinals head coach, coached Ballard, the team's fifth round draft choice that year, to a rookie season in which he started 12 games (playing in 16) and rushed for 814 yards and 2 touchdowns on 211 carries (3.9 yards per carry), while also catching 17 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Upon hearing the news about Ballard, Bruce Arians cried.
Arians said "I cried last night" when he heard Colts RB Vick Ballard went out for season. Arians coached Ballard in Indy.— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) July 26, 2014
Fellow running back Ahmad Bradshaw also expressed his sadness over seeing Ballard go down when he talked to the media this morning:
"It's heartbreaking for me, man. Vick's a brother to me. I was taking pride in helping him out a whole lot and trying to improve both our games and helping each other, him and Trent also. It's just heartbreaking for me to see that happen and all I can do is just help him fight through this."
Ballard is a good guy and someone who everyone, including Pagano, Arians and Bradshaw are rooting for, and I'm certainly rooting hard for to get back as well. On twitter, he's remained upbeat about his determination to come back:
Thanks everybody who reached out. Going back in the shop. Be back soon! #BTM— Vick Ballard (@VickBallard) July 26, 2014
Gonna have a great story to tell one day... http://t.co/H19D6PbyFe— Vick Ballard (@VickBallard) July 26, 2014
Best of luck to Vick Ballard on his recovery, and Colts nation awaits his return. But for the time being, if you're wondering about where the loss now leaves the running back position, read what I wrote last night.