Over the past few days the Indianapolis Colts have been linked to a number of running backs - whether it's through free agency (Frank Gore) or through the Draft (Tevin Coleman and others). There's no doubt that the Colts need help at the position, as they are almost certain to part ways with Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw is an unrestricted free agent, and Boom Herron is a restricted free agent. It's likely that the Colts will address the position in some way this offseason.
With that said, however, don't forget about Vick Ballard, because the Colts haven't. He has missed most of the past two seasons with injuries (torn ACL in 2013, torn Achilles in 2014) and that leaves a lot of questions and leads to Ballard being forgotten when discussing the running back position, but perhaps that shouldn't be the case.
"As a rookie, we loved what he did and that would be outstanding [if he could come back healthy]," general manager Ryan Grigson said Thursday at the NFL Combine. "He's still a very young guy and he has all the traits we're looking
for in a runner. He can do all the things you want a runner to do in this offense and you don't have to worry about him for a second. He's going to work his tail off. He runs hard. He's got really good feet. He can avoid. He gets tough yards and he's, the picture right outside of our hallway is the one from Tennessee where he makes the corkscrew diving touchdown to win the game at Tennessee, he's so competitive yet you never hear him say a word, that's the kind of guy you like."
Head coach Chuck Pagano added that, "Vick's doing well. He's going through rehab right now. He's on schedule. Again, always defer to the docs when it comes to that stuff. But he's been working his tail off and he's on schedule. When the doctors say he's 100 percent and ready to roll, then we'll get him back out on the field. When that it is, I don't know."
We haven't heard many updates whatsoever about Vick Ballard since he tore his Achilles in training camp, so it's good to hear that he's on schedule with his recovery. And it sounds like the Colts still have hopes for him and that Ballard might factor into the plans at running back if he can stay healthy. But that's the big question, and the issue of his health is why the Colts can't count on Ballard. If he can stay healthy then that'd be a nice boost to the Colts' backfield in providing a solid running back, but they can't count on that happening.
As a rookie in 2012, Ballard started 12 games (playing in all 16) and rushed for 814 yards and two touchdowns (averaging 3.9 yards per carry) and caught 18 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. He started one game in 2013 before tearing his ACL, rushing for 48 yards on 13 carries (4.8 yards per carry). Since then, he hasn't stepped on the field for an actual NFL game, as he tore his Achilles in training camp last year.
Ballard could be a nice addition to the Colts backfield, but the team is likely going to move forward in adding running back help this offseason.
"Like any other position, we're going to take a long, hard look at that position," Pagano said. "Obviously there's going to be a lot of guys here that we're going to evaluate. There are guys in free agency that we'll evaluate. The roster is very, very fluid."
Ryan Grigson agreed, saying that, "you have to run the ball in this league, especially in January and February. You have to have a running game and we have to work hard in achieving that and implementing that and having the right players involved that can execute the system."
Hopefully Vick Ballard can be a factor in the Colts' backfield this year, as it's clear that Grigson and Pagano haven't given up on him and still like him, but they have to move on in addressing the position further this offseason, whether that be through free agency or the Draft.