Through the first nine games of the 2014 season, the Colts' offense was among the very best in the entire NFL. A big reason for that was running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
In the nine complete games that Bradshaw played, he rushed for 421 yards and two scores while averaging 5.1 yards per carry and caught 34 passes for 293 yards and six scores, averaging 8.6 yards per reception. He combined to gain 725 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per touch - easily the highest of any Colts' running back this season (the next highest was Boom Herron with 5.0 yards per touch). Furthermore, Trent Richardson, Boom Herron, and Zurlon Tipton scored eight combined touchdowns in 397 touches (including postseason). Ahmad Bradshaw scored eight touchdowns by himself on just 128 touches. It was impossible to ignore his impact in the offense.
But then, in week eleven against the Patriots, Bradshaw went down with a fractured fibula, ending his season. It was a huge blow to a Colts' offense that never really recovered from that loss, but Bradshaw is currently recovering from the injury hoping to make a comeback next season. It's the second straight season that Bradshaw ended on injured reserve, but he's not getting discouraged.
"It's the nature of the game, that's how I look at it," Bradshaw said on Monday. "This was like an injury I was always scared of and thinking about during the season, just something to stay away from as successful as the games were coming. That was just one thing I wanted to stay away from, but like I said, everything happens for a reason. I think it won't do anything but make me stronger."
"I'm in high spirits," Bradshaw later added. "I feel like I said we had a great season. It's really no frustration for me. I felt Boom (Herron) did what I could have done. I just looked at it and played through him."
That was one bright spot at the running back position late in the season: Boom Herron really stepped up and filled that Bradshaw role in the Colts' offense. He wasn't Ahmad Bradshaw, but he played very well anyway and showed great promise moving forward.
"It was like me being out there man," Bradshaw said of watching Herron play. "It's just like a brother, one of my brothers, watching one of my brothers. You just want the best for him. He's a great back and I've seen it all year. It was just an opportunity he got and he took advantage of it. Just kind of reminded me of myself my rookie year when Derrick Ward went down and we went to win the Super Bowl. It was great to see him play and do good."
Boom Herron did enough down the stretch and in the playoffs to put himself right in the middle of the discussion about the Colts' running back position for the 2015 season, and it's pretty clear that Herron will be around next season (though his role is yet to be determined). The question that many have is whether Ahmad Bradshaw will be joining Herron in the backfield.
Bradshaw is a 28-year old running back coming off of season-ending injuries in two consecutive years and is a free agent this offseason. Will the Colts bring him back? Last season, the Colts re-signed him to a one year deal worth $855,000, and if they could get him on a similar deal again, I absolutely think it would be worth it for the Colts. But there's no guarantee that the Colts will go in that direction, but one thing is clear: Bradshaw would be interested in returning.
"We'll see," Bradshaw said when asked what he expects moving forward as a free agent. "That's the beauty of this game, you never know. I'm a free agent, we'll see how it goes. I would love to be here and stay with the Colts, and play for this organization which we make a better step every year. Like I said, I would like to be here to keep going."