For Colts running back Vick Ballard, it has been a rough past couple of years. After an impressive 814 yard season as a rookie in 2012, Ballard entered the 2013 as the starting running back. In practice the week after the season opener, however, Ballard tore his ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Then last year, shortly after his return to the field early in training camp, Ballard tore his Achilles - again on a non-contact drill - and was again out for the year.
He's returning from injury once again, but he expects to be back to compete by training camp. "Yeah, definitely man," Ballard told the media on Wednesday when asked about that. "Training camp is a long time from now, so truth be told, I probably could participate now, but there's no rush. Just trying to take my time with it."
Ballard, who changed his number to 26 because he "never really liked 33" and because he wore it some in high school and college, sees it as a fresh start and is trying to look at the positive side of the two non-contact injuries. "One bright side I can look at it is, like you guys say, a running back takes a beating," Ballard said. "I'm pretty fresh. Nothing hurts. That's a positive, so just have to get my strength back. That's my main thing."
The Colts obviously signed Frank Gore this offseason and he'll be the team's starting running back, but the depth chart after him isn't yet solidified. Boom Herron is back and will be competing, Zurlon Tipton is back as well, and Vick Ballard is returning from injury. Additionally, many expect the Colts to add a young running back at some point in the draft.
On that last point, Ballard doesn't really see the need to draft a running back. The reason why? "I'm a young running back," Ballard told the media. And the back at least has one person with the team who buys into that, and it's a pretty important person: the team's franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck. "He is [a young running back]," Luck noted, "and he's good. He's proven it in the NFL before."
Vick Ballard will certainly get a chance to prove himself and to earn a spot with the team, but first he just has to get back on the field. His expectation is that he'll "definitely" be back for training camp, and perhaps even sooner.