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Why are the Colts Waiting to Place Vick Ballard on IR?

The Patriots' claiming of injured running back Tyler Gaffney show why the Colts have yet to place running back Vick Ballard on IR, and further shows why the Colts still have hopes for him.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Colts running back Vick Ballard tore his Achilles last Friday, July 25.  Head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed on Saturday the injury and, also, that Ballard would miss the entire season.  Yet the Colts have not placed Ballard on IR yet.  This isn't a case of waiting to IR a guy with a designation to return, as Ballard will clearly miss the entire season.  So why haven't they placed Ballard on season-ending injured reserve?  A roster move elsewhere throughout the league shows us exactly why.

The New England Patriots signed running back Tyler Gaffney, the Carolina Panthers' sixth round pick this year out of Stanford.  Gaffney was injured during a training camp practice on Friday (the same day as Vick Ballard) and the knee injury will require season-ending surgery.  The Panthers liked Gaffney, but there was no need for them to keep him on the active roster for this season, thus they made the move to place him on injured reserve.  But there's a catch, however: if a player is placed on injured reserve during this time of year, before cuts are made, they have to first clear waivers before reverting to the team's IR.  Normally, this isn't a problem, and in fact many teams consider it an unwritten rule not to claim someone in this manner.  But not the Patriots, and let's be clear that they're perfectly within their rights to claim a guy.  So the Patriots did claim Gaffney, even though he'll miss this season.  It's not the first time the Patriots have done this, as back in 2012 they claimed injured tight end Jake Ballard from the Giants.

Thus is the reason why the Colts have yet to place Vick Ballard on IR - they simply value him too much, even though he'll miss this entire season.  The Colts could place him on IR and he very well could clear waivers, but the Colts (rightly) know that with a player like Ballard, there's also a good chance that someone might claim him, and the Colts don't want to take that chance.  Furthermore, it's not like the team is hard pressed for a roster spot - in fact, they've got a few still open right now that they don't appear in a huge rush to fill.

To the Colts, keeping Vick Ballard is much more important than one of ninety roster spots being freed up.  And it makes total sense too, as it's the right move.  Even though Ballard missed all but one game last year with a torn ACL and even though he'll miss all of this year with a torn Achilles, he was impressive in his rookie season and there is hope that he'll come back next year.  He's a hard worker and a good guy, and the Colts clearly have hopes that he'll return next season, as evidenced by this delay in the transaction.  So not only does the delay in placing him on injured reserve make total sense when looking at the fact that he'd have to clear waivers first, it also shows that the Colts aren't giving up on Vick Ballard yet.  Many fans have suggested that perhaps Ballard's career - or at least his career with the Colts - might be over, and while he has a long recovery ahead of him, the Colts clearly expect him to return and they still have hopes for him.