For anyone who has watched the Colts play this season (and even last year as well), it's been clear that the best option for the team at the running back position is Ahmad Bradshaw. Not only has Bradshaw seen more carries than any other Colts back so far this year, he's been more impressive than any other back as well.
Last year, Bradshaw landed on injured reserve due to a neck injury after only three games. It was a long road back, but Bradshaw put in the work to return and is now a major factor in a very talented Colts offense that currently ranks as a top-five unit in the league.
"He's a different breed," former Giants and current Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said yesterday of Bradshaw. "He obviously believed that he did everything he was supposed to do to get back to this point and he's out there running wild again."
"I feel great," Bradshaw said. "I feel 100 percent, and when I'm out there on Sunday, I feel 120 percent. It's different. I've had to fight through a lot of surgeries and different stuff in the offseason. Now to not have to worry about a lot of this stuff is mind-boggling."
He looks great on the field, too. He is currently second in the NFL in yards per carry (6.0) and is tied for fourth in the league in receiving touchdowns (3), first among running backs.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Difficult to express how important <a href="https://twitter.com/AhmadBradshaw">@AhmadBradshaw</a> has been to the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash">#Colts</a>, but here are a few numbers: <a href="http://t.co/cQfSH95iV2">pic.twitter.com/cQfSH95iV2</a></p>— Kyle J. Rodriguez (@ColtsAuth_Kyle) <a href="https://twitter.com/ColtsAuth_Kyle/status/515069662154194944">September 25, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Bradshaw has actually seen more snaps than starter Trent Richardson (113 to 97), but Richardson has more carries (41 to 25) and more total touches (48 to 37). Both backs have rushed for more than 150 yards so far this season, and the Colts are pleased with how the rotation is working out.
"Right now it's working out the way we're rolling those guys," head coach Chuck Pagano said yesterday. "Coming off the bench, so to speak, coming from the bullpen, if you will, he's obviously been very, very productive. I think both guys are pushing each other. The competition there is very good and I think both guys are pushing each other to be extremely productive. So I like how it's going to this point."
"That's our identity, that's the identity of this offense," tight end Dwayne Allen said of the power running scheme. "We're a power gap scheme type of running style team. Whenever we have two or more tight ends out there, we're able to really utilize the skillset. Jack (Doyle) or myself can play fullback, Coby (Fleener) can play either side of the line and both me and Jack can play on the line of scrimmage. It gives the defense fits and they really don't know which side of the ball we're running."
"The running game's been good," starting center A.Q. Shipley said. "It's great to block for backs like Ahmad (Bradshaw) and Trent (Richardson). You can see it on film, they're making one cut and they're going downhill. They're running with a purpose. As an offensive line, that's fun to work with. We're getting a lot of run looks in practice. We've really gotten comfortable with one other and all of our blocks, the different blocks that we have to do in unison. We've been doing a good job of doing it in practice, getting the different looks and they've been transferring to the game."
Talk to anybody on the Colts and they'll have high praise for the way both Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson are playing so far. And it's for good reason, too. Richardson has been better than he was last year, but the best back has undoubtedly been Ahmad Bradshaw. He's a great fit for the offensive scheme the Colts should run and he's a great overall back. He can make plays and can do a lot of things. When Bradshaw is in the game, the Colts offense seems to function better and more efficiently. The team doesn't want to overwork him, and that's why I don't mind the two-back approach at all - if Bradshaw stays healthy all year, he will be a huge factor and contributor to the Colts offense. In fact, he already has been.