When comparing himself to his other offensive teammates drafted in April’s NFL’s Draft, running back Vick Ballard is flying under the radar.
He wasn’t the No. 1 pick, isn’t part of a rookie tight end tandem and isn’t a wide receiver that is making plays in the return game.
Yet, through two weeks of the preseason, Ballard has made his name known to Colts fans.
Ballard leads Colts running backs with 16 carries for 62 yards and has seen a good amount of time with the first team offense.
“I think I’m doing pretty good but I think I still have a long way to go,” Ballard said. “As far as like making my pre-snap reads, I feel like I can be a lot better at that. As a whole, I think I’ve done pretty well.”
This past Sunday against the Steelers, Ballard saw some extended playing time with running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore sidelined with rib injuries.
The opportunity to take meaningful reps was beneficial to Ballard, who made sure to play within himself even though he was running with the first team.
“I don’t want to try and do too much because that causes you to make a mistake,” Ballard said. “Whenever I have the ball in my hands, I just think of it as playing football. Do what got you here, be consistent.”
Inside the running backs meeting room, Ballard said he has picked the brains of both Moore and starting running back Donald Brown.
During minicamp, head coach Chuck Pagano called Brown the ‘bell cow’ of the running back position but also pointed out that the team would call on more than one running back during the regular season.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians’ system seems to fit to Brown’s strengths and Pagano is pleased with what he’s seen out of his starter.
“He’d be the first to tell you from a scheme stand point, it’s basically what he did in college. So he feels very comfortable running the plays we’re running now. So it doesn’t surprise me to see him make the plays that he’s making,” Pagano said.
“Plus I watch him step up and protect on third down and hit these big linebackers from the Steelers last Sunday night and protect his quarterback. So from a protection standpoint, running the football and catching the football out in the backfield, he’s having a great camp and he’s well on his way to having a great year.”
It is the art of pass protecting that most rookie running backs struggle with in adjusting to the NFL.
Ballard now has the opportunity to watch Brown’s work in the pass blocking game and with a little more time, the Colts will have added another weapon to an already productive offense.
“You watch a guy like Vick Ballard run and a guy like Donnie Brown, what he’s been able to do with this new system. There’s some guys that obviously we’ve surrounded Andrew with, offensive linemen that you’ve brought in, the free agent guys are starting to mesh and gel. I feel really good about where we’re at offensively,” Pagano said.
Tags: bruce arians, chuck pagano, Delone Carter, donald brown, Mewelde Moore, vick ballard
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