The Colts have been taking it very slow when it comes to injuries recently. The word "precautionary" has been uttered countless times since training camp began, often by head coach Chuck Pagano himself. And it's the right approach.
Pagano and the Colts went back this offseason and did extensive research trying to find any correlations with the incredible number of injuries they suffered last year and the plague of injuries they've been hit with in years past. As a result, the team's training camp practices were much easier, with most of them being in less than full pads and with very limited contact. Also, with injured players, the Colts have taken it very slowly and have held a number of people out of practice for "precautionary" reasons. In the preseason, the absolute right thing to do is be cautious and take it slow with injuries.
On Wednesday, Chuck Pagano was asked about one such precautionary issue, about running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw missed all but three games last year with a neck injury and, although being back at practice since the start of camp, was held out of the first preseason game. He was wearing a red jersey in practice this week, but Pagano maintained that, "he's healthy" and that the red jersey is "absolutely" just precautionary.
It's still unknown whether Bradshaw will play tonight. Will he play tonight? Will he play at all in the preseason? Bradshaw spoke to the media this past week and said that the plan is for him to play in this game or the next, but also said that, "I also want to get out and test if possible my neck. But like I said, I think I have tested it enough in practice, I've hit guys, I've stood in there and blocked and I just want it to heal as much as possible and not take the unnecessary stuff."
I get being cautious. I also am not at all advocating that the Colts should rush Bradshaw back at all. But if they really think he's ready and are just waiting, then I think it's the wrong thing. Here's why: the Colts have to know what they have from Ahmad Bradshaw.
They know that, when healthy, Bradshaw is a great running back who could help them tremendously. But he's been injured in the past, and especially with a neck injury last year, there's a lot of questions and uncertainty surrounding Bradshaw. And the only way to find out about Bradshaw is to play him. The Colts need to put him out there and see how he's doing. They need to see him take a hit in live action, not the easy practice contact that we saw in training camp. The Colts need to see him out there playing and taking hits. This isn't to say that they should subject him to excessive hits or put him out there before he's ready, but if he's healthy, the Colts need to put him out there and see for sure.
There will be those that disagree with this, I know. But with questions surrounding Trent Richardson too, the Colts have a lot of uncertainty at the running back position. The unit would look a lot better with a healthy Bradshaw, and so the question now is whether the Colts can count on that without actually seeing it, and I don't think so. I think they need to put him out there and see it on the field.
I'm hopeful about Ahmad Bradshaw. The Colts are hopeful about Ahmad Bradshaw But I think that those hopes must be confirmed on the field, and sooner rather than later.