Earlier this week, the Indianapolis Colts waived running back Vick Ballard with the injury designation, and he later cleared waivers and has now reverted to the team's injured reserve. It was an interesting decision especially considering the fact that the Colts had kept him on their roster for week one.
When the Colts made their roster cutdowns after preseason, Ballard wasn't one of them - something that came as a surprise to many. Things began to make more sense when Boom Herron was waived-injured the following day, but the reality remained that Ballard was injured as well, as he was dealing with a hamstring tweak that had plagued him throughout training camp. That hamstring injury kept him out of practice the entire week leading up to the regular season opener and out of that game as well. Then, on Tuesday, after keeping an injured Ballard on their roster for over a week, the Colts waived him with an injury designation. So what's up with the move?
According to head coach Chuck Pagano, it's really quite simple. "He wasn't healthy, and we needed a body," Pagano said twice during his Thursday press conference. "We did what we thought was best for the team."
It's really the same thing that went into the decision to release Boom Herron - he wasn't healthy, and the Colts didn't want to carry a backup on the active roster for a few weeks while he recovered. That's the same thing that happened with Ballard, though it's still interesting that they kept him around for a week before making that decision. But with him still not healthy, the Colts opted to make a move that would help them more, which was adding linebacker Josh McNary.
McNary helps the Colts in two ways. Firstly, he gives them depth at inside linebacker, as McNary is a player who has started some games for the Colts in the past, knows the system, and has some potential. But secondly (and more importantly), McNary can contribute on special teams. In 24 career games with the Colts (including playoffs), McNary has recorded 20 special teams tackles, proving to be a reliable player there. And considering the Colts had special teams issues last weekend (that Chuck Pagano pointed out on Monday), it makes sense that they'd add someone who could help them in that area (which wasn't Vick Ballard).
"Linebacker depth, special teams, we know he's a good athlete," Pagano said of McNary today, confirming that the Colts added him for both depth at linebacker and help on special teams. "Great movement skills, got burst, got twitch, guy can help us in our four core special teams. Certainly as he progresses and gets back into football shape and familiarizes himself with the whole package moving forward he'll help us."
Really, it's that simple. Vick Ballard couldn't help the Colts out right now because of his injury, and the cold reality of the NFL is that teams won't wait for you to get healthy unless you're a special player (and not a backup). The Colts needed someone who could help them out right now, and Josh McNary brings that with depth and special teams play.