It looked like Anderson all over again.
No, this wasn’t training camp and the setting was a little further south at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center but back in the corner of the Colts locker room on Wednesday was the group of running backs, including Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore, looking like they had never missed a beat with each other.
Karim and Moore returned to the facility for practice on Wednesday as the next chapter of ‘next man up’ will focus on the running back position.
Moore played six games for the Colts this season and was frequently used as a third down back earlier this year before being cut on Oct. 29. With running backs Donald Brown and Robert Hughes being placed on injured reserve on Tuesday and Delone Carter out two to three weeks according to Bruce Arians, Moore’s return will directly impact Sunday’s game.
“That’s my goal at all times,” Moore said of getting back out on the field. “I’m a competitor and I love to compete. I’m very grateful to be back and being able to get a chance to play.”
Where as Moore survived training camp cuts, Karim did not with a crowded backfield allowing for only four spots on the opening day regular season roster.
Not only is Karim returning to the fold with playing time up for grabs this weekend but he is also coming to a team who he spent all of the offseason with, and now a team on the brink of the playoffs.
“When we are in meetings (Wednesday), going through the plays and everything it just came back naturally,” Karim said of the offensive scheme. “Just asking for details from coach (Walker) and putting things together was much easier.”
“I spent three years in Jacksonville and no playoff hopes at all, not at this point of the season, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Starting running back Vick Ballard is the lone healthy back that has remained in the lineup for the entire season.
As a nine-year veteran, Moore has seen his fair share of backs grow up before him and he admitted it’s been special sitting at home watching Ballard’s growth.
“I’m very proud just to be able to come in from the beginning of it and see Vick how he’s evolving and growing in the game and becoming more and more of a professional,” Moore said. “I’m very excited about it and I’m very happy that he’s achieving great things.”
While their numbers have changed to 37 (Moore) and 36 (Karim), both players are perfectly content with where the Colts are positioned in the middle of December.
Moore was a member of the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII team and it’s games at this point of the season that is why he finds himself still in the league at the age of 30.
“It’s what you dream about,” Moore said of playing in December. “This is the part of the season that every kid’s played in his backyard. A final play, fourth-and-two and you are diving over the pile. This is the type of football that now means the most. Football in December, January and so on.”
Tags: bruce arians, Delone Carter, donald brown, Mewelde Moore, robert hughes, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
The Indianapolis Colts today signed running backs Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore to the active roster and placed running back Donald Brown and fullback Robert Hughes on Injured Reserve. The team also signed running back Davin Meggett to the practice squad and released running back Alvester Alexander from the practice squad. Offensive guard Justin Anderson was placed on the Practice Squad Injured List.
Karim, 5-8, 209 pounds, has appeared in 23 games over his three-year career, recording 98 rushes for 290 yards and 17 receptions for 130 yards. He was acquired from waivers by the Colts on April 30, 2012 before being waived-injured on September 10. Karim was originally selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the sixth round (180th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Southern Illinois University. He spent two seasons with the Jaguars before being waived on April 27, 2012.
Moore, 5-11, 209 pounds, has totaled 503 rushes for 2,261 yards and six touchdowns over his nine-year career. He has also caught 218 passes for 1,911 yards and eight touchdowns. In six games this season with the Colts, Moore has rushed nine times for 14 yards and has caught four passes for 36 yards and a touchdown. He was originally signed by the Colts as an unrestricted free agent on June 19, 2012 before being waived on October 29.
Brown, 5-10, 210 pounds, tallied 108 rushing attempts for 417 yards and a touchdown and nine receptions for 93 yards in 10 games (four starts) this season. For his career, Brown has rushed 449 times for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has also recorded 56 receptions for 553 yards. Brown was selected by the Colts in the first round (27th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Hughes, 5-11, 235 pounds, notched one rush for five yards and one reception for three yards in five games (one start) this season. Hughes was originally signed to the Colts practice squad on October 10, 2012 and elevated to the 53-man active roster on October 29.
Meggett, 5-8, 215 pounds, was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Houston Texans out of the University of Maryland on May 14, 2012 and was waived on August 26. He was then signed to the Texans practice squad on September 26 and released on November 27. At Maryland, Meggett saw action in 50 career games (17 starts), carrying the ball 485 times for 2,469 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Alexander, 5-11, 204 pounds, was originally signed by the Colts on August 15, 2012 before being waived on August 26. He was signed to the practice squad on September 3 and released on October 9. Alexander was signed back to the practice squad on October 30 and released on November 20. He was then signed to the practice squad again on December 4.
Anderson, 6-5, 342 pounds, was originally selected by the Colts in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Georgia. He was placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List on August 27, 2012 and was activated on November 19. He was then waived by the team on November 20 and signed to the practice squad on November 23.
Tags: Deji Karim, donald brown, injured reserve, Mewelde Moore, robert hughes, roster moves
Posted in Colts Blog
For the first time in his NFL career, when quarterback Andrew Luck turned around to hand the ball off on the first offensive series, he didn’t see Donald Brown.
Rookie running back Vick Ballard made his first career start on Sunday in place of the injured Brown.
Ballard had 25 yards on eight carries and although he started off the game in the backfield, there wasn’t too much of a change for the Colts fifth round draft pick.
“I don’t think it felt any different because I still got the same amount of plays because of the two-minute (offense) when Mewelde (Moore) got in there,” Ballard said. “I think I had 29 plays so it really wasn’t any different for me other than getting the first series.”
Moore was used primarily on third downs for the Colts and also in the two-minute offense. Second-year running back Delone Carter saw extended playing time in just his second game of the season, carrying the ball four times
With Ballard in the starting lineup, the Colts had four rookies start on Sunday and a total of eight saw action on the offense.
The film room was the place to find Ballard on Monday and he recognized a few teaching points he will take into the Colts meeting with Cleveland this weekend.
“We obviously have to take care of the ball,” Ballard said. “Attention to detail, execution, whenever we do those things, good things will happen. Just going to come to work Wednesday and get ready for next week.”
This was just the second road game for the Colts and although getting the start didn’t seem to be different for Ballard, playing away from home was an adjustment for him.
“I guess you could say crowd noise because sometimes, you know the snap count but you can’t hear it because the quarterback is under center,” Ballard said of the biggest difference.
“You just have to kind of look at the ball. Where as if we are playing at home, you can listen to the quarterback and hear the calls and stuff.”
Ballard now has 29 carries on the season and that number will continue to rise with Brown expected to be out of the lineup again this weekend.
The run production wasn’t where the offense wanted it on Sunday but the guys in front of Ballard appreciate his running style.
“I like the way Vick runs,” offensive guard Jeff Linkenbach said. “He runs downhill. Vick isn’t afraid to just punch it into a hole. We like that as offensive linemen, someone that is willing to just jam it up in there for a few.”
Tags: Delone Carter, Jeff Linkenbach, Mewelde Moore, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
While Trai Essex has the familiarity of coaches within the organization, he admitted on Wednesday that he doesn’t know a lot of his new teammates.
Running back Mewelde Moore and center A.Q. Shipley are the only two Colts that have called Essex a teammate in the past.
Essex comes over to the Colts after seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and he spent the last four of those years playing with Moore. Shipley spent the 2011 season the Steelers practice squad.
The success that Essex and Moore shared together in Pittsburgh includes a pair of Super Bowl appearances in 2008 and 2010.
Both of those seasons the Steelers went 12-4 in the regular season while capturing Super Bowl XLIII.
What Essex doesn’t know yet about his Colts teammates, he does know a lot about the state he is once again calling home. He went to Fort Wayne Harding High School and won a state championship in basketball in 2002.
Essex started his final 37 games at Northwestern University before being chosen by the Steelers in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft.
There weren’t many ways to turn in the Colts locker room in trying to find someone who is familiar with Essex from a playing standpoint but Moore offered some strong words when talking about a man he has called a teammate for now the last five seasons.
“We are getting a guy who can play three positions,” Moore said of Essex “A guy who’s smart, physical, a strong individual and a great teammate. You’ll love to be around him and just everything he brings to the table is definitely going to help us win ball games.”
Tags: A.Q. Shipley, Mewelde Moore, Trai Essex
Posted in Colts Blog
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
Posted in Colts Blog
New Colts running back Mewelde Moore spent four season in Pittsburgh along with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. He’s hoping his ribs allow him to be productive on the field when the Colts visit the Steelers on Sunday.
Moore was one of several Colts who suffered injuries in Sunday’s exhibition opener. While his bruised ribs are still tender, Moore hopes he can go on Sunday. He knows, however, that this is just a preseason game and that bigger moments await him with the Colts.
Moore said he’s excited about getting a chance to see some old friends this week, but is characteristically focused on his new business, helping the Colts “build the monster.” To that end, Moore expects to be especially helpful this week, whether or not he gets on the field.
Even though teams don’t actively game plan for their opposition during the preseason, Moore admitted that he is able to provide some assistance as the Colts prepare this week.
“I hope to be able to give as much as I possibly can. Insight, advice, knowledge of certain players, certain ways to prepare…I’m doing everything I can to be ready.”
The last piece is especially important as the Colts have so many NFL newbies who will be making their first appearance in front of a hostile crowd. Moore agreed that it doesn’t get much more hostile for opponents than in front of Steeler fans.
Although he’s only been a Colt for a short while, Moore says this team is already like family.
“I give my team my all, which in turn gives it all back to the fans…No matter what day of the week, time or month, I play to win.”
It’s that focused attitude that made Moore someone Bruce Arians was eager to bring over with him from Pittsburgh. There, Moore had a reputation for doing whatever was needed to help the team win. Arians used Moore as a third down back, a goal line back, and during the Steelers’ 2008 Super Bowl run, a starter when Willie Parker went down with an injury. That season Moore showed his versatility, leading the Steelers in all-purpose yards.
The Colts are hoping Moore will be ready to go and get some carries against his old team on Sunday. Whether or not that happens, they’re grateful for his presence in the locker room and for the positive attitude he brings to this young team.
Tags: bruce arians, Mewelde Moore
Posted in Colts Blog
The start couldn’t have been scripted much better for offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
One play. Twelve seconds. Sixty-three yards and a touchdown for the first offensive snap of the 2012 preseason.
“An easy completion to Donald (Brown) but Dwayne Allen made an unbelievable effort block and Anthony Castonzo made a great block. The whole group just executed to perfection. Donald just had to run. It was a nice way to start,” Arians said.
Sunday’s offensive production stayed consistent through all three Colts quarterbacks, as the 38 points scored are the most Indianapolis has scored in the preseason since 1989.
Like any coach striving to get better, Arians is still searching for that complete performance offensively.
“I thought we played fairly fast. Obviously, made some explosive plays but we lacked consistency,” Arians said. “There were so many plays out there to make. (We) didn’t handle some of their blitzes well so we’ve got a lot of improvement to do. We’ve got to run the ball better and each week just continue to improve.”
It’s the running game that Arians was focused on following Tuesday’s practice as the Colts are dealing with a banged up backfield.
The Colts had four healthy running backs during practice on Tuesday and then signed running back Alvester Alexander later in the evening to provide some depth.
Arians has said he wants to see ‘physicality’ out of the running game and he stressed the need for the small things out of his backs.
“Four yards or more, don’t be dancing around and trying to make long runs,” Arians said of his running backs. “Get positive yardage, block linebackers and safeties in pass protection and play all around football. We have quality guys at the position and it’s high competition right now to get guys on the field.”
One player that Arians said will see some extended workload this week is rookie running back Vick Ballard.
With running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore nursing rib injuries, Ballard saw some extra playing time on Sunday against the Rams and his offensive coordinator has liked what he’s seen from the rookie.
“I’ve been really impressed with (Ballard),” Arians said. “I like his pass protection too. I think he’s improving in that area. The sky’s the limit with that kid.”
While Arians expects Ballard to get more action this week, he will be doing it behind a different offensive line.
Offensive guard Mike McGlynn suffered an ankle injury against the Rams and is expected to miss some time.
Finding more than five bodies along the offensive line is a must according to Arians over a taxing 16-game regular schedule.
“You’ve got to have seven guys and if you think you’re just going to play with five that doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “We went to the Super Bowl with seven offensive tackles and four quarterbacks (in Pittsburgh). The next man standing, the next man in line, he jumps in and he plays. There’s no drop off. There’s never an excuse for an injury. If you’re a backup you’re one of the most valuable guys on the team.”
An established, well-oiled running game will go a long way to making things easier for quarterback Andrew Luck.
The rookie had an impressive debut in front of home fans at Lucas Oil Stadium but to his offensive coordinator who has seen him for the better part of the last three months it was nothing he didn’t expect.
“Nothing surprises me about him anymore,” Arians said. “I kind of expect it now and I think it surprised other people. I wouldn’t have anticipated anything else from him.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, anthony castonzo, Delone Carter, donald brown, dwayne allen, Mewelde Moore, mike mcglynn, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
On an afternoon that will be remembered more for what the Colts did through the air rather than on the ground, 11 different players had a carry on Sunday against the Rams including five getting their first ever NFL rush.
Throughout training camp, the Colts have stressed the importance of establishing the run and keeping a balanced attack.
With 30 pass attempts and 32 rushes that is the type of balance the Colts will be looking for during the regular season.
The Colts have rotated six different running backs in training camp and for a rookie quarterback like Andrew Luck, a ground game you can count on can be your best friend.
“(The running backs) have been great all camp. They’ve showed they have a lot of juice during the game so they’ve been a lot of fun to play with,” Luck said.
In late June, the Colts added some much needed experience to the running back position by signing nine-year veteran Mewelde Moore.
The experience Moore brings to the running back position comes from his last four years of playing under current offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
It was that familiarity with Arians that brought Moore to Indianapolis.
“I think I have a good idea of what it is he wants to do and what he wants from me. The beauty of it is, it’s a variety of everything,” Moore said. “Being able to do a lot of jobs, a lot of tasks that he asks me to do. I’m more than equipped to be able to provide that. It’s just all about me going out there and doing what I’m being asked to do and execute.”
Moore had a solid first two weeks of training camp but he, along with running back Delone Carter, suffered a rib injury against the Rams on Sunday.
It is unsure how much time the two running backs will miss but that opens the door for more carries among the other backs.
“I mean you kind of hate to get (more reps) like that,” running back Darren Evans said. “Delone (Carter) is one of my good friends on the team and Mewelde’s (Moore) been a big help for me so I hate to see them go down like that. But it does open up opportunity.”
The NFL experience between the other five running backs on the Colts roster adds up to 10 years, just one more than Moore.
Along with his knowledge of Arians’ offense, it’s the other nuances of the running back position that Moore is trying to share with his younger teammates.
“I’ve been playing football for a while and the experience factor is a big key, especially in the third-down packaging, blitzes and recognizing what is going on, being able to give assistance in that type of thing,” Moore said.
Rookie running back Vick Ballard is the youngest player of the group, but he had a solid opener with six carries for 25 yards.
Ballard was a sixth round pick of the Colts in April’s NFL Draft and knows that even though his touches might not be what he had in college, he needs to be the same player that was a 1,000 yard rusher in the Southeastern Conference.
“I want to get the ball and I want to do well but at the same time I don’t want to play outside myself because that’s when you start making mistakes and stuff. Just try and do what got me here,” Ballard said.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Darren Evans, Delone Carter, Mewelde Moore, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog
The players can sense it.
Less than three days away from finally having the chance to play against someone other than their teammates.
All the offseason talk can finally be put into action as the Indianapolis Colts open up their preseason slate with the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“I’m anticipating it. I can’t say I know exactly what we’re going to look like, but I know one thing, we’re going to go out there and play hard,” safety Antoine Bethea said. “We’re going to go out there and play hard. Coach Pagano just instills all the time, don’t beat ourselves. I think that’s one thing that the fans will see, guys out there playing hard.”
For established veterans like Bethea, the preseason will be treated differently than it would be for the younger players fighting for a spot on the opening day roster.
Bethea admitted he will only play a select number of plays knowing that his body needs to handle a 16-game schedule starting in September.
Flip to the other side of the experience meter and you get a second-year player like wide receiver Kris Adams.
After being on three different practice squads during his rookie season last year, Adams is hoping to find a secure spot on the Colts roster.
For a player like Adams, the preseason games take on even more weight, especially if you have struggled during the early part of training camp.
“Last year when I was with Chicago, I came out and had a big first preseason game. I wasn’t doing fairly well in practice and that got me noticed,” Adams said.
“I think (the Bears) gave me the opportunity to stick around there for a little while. I’m doing fine in practice, so I just want to keep that preseason thing going along like it was last year.”
Many times the final roster spots come down to those players who excel on special teams and can help a team in a phase that is often overlooked.
Running back Mewelde Moore is taking part in his ninth NFL training camp and doesn’t take a single game for granted.
“I’m very excited about it,” Moore said. “It’s something we’ve been born to do. It’s something we’ve been dreaming about to get out there and play our first preseason game.”
Tags: Antione Bethea, chuck pagano, Kris Adams, Mewelde Moore
Posted in Colts Blog
Monday was the day to talk to the coordinators following the Colts afternoon practice.
Here are a few highlights from offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on the quarterback and running backs position.
On how long Andrew Luck will play in Sunday’s preseason game:
“Still up in the air, you know. We want to see how long we want to play that first line and the entire group, so we haven’t really sat down and talked about it yet. We’d like to get in 20 plays, maybe 25. Oh yeah, he needs to play against someone else other than himself and see different coverages and different fronts. We’re looking forward to it.”
On the running back competition among the six on the roster:
“Six good backs, that’s part of the reason I’m anxious to see them and we don’t want our ones going the whole time either. We’ve got to get all those guys in and see what they do and what role they can find. Delone (Carter) did a nice job in his short yardage and goal line period the other day. Donald (Brown)’s had a good camp, (Mewelde Moore)’s had a good camp. Vick (Ballard), I really want to see him in action, see what he’s doing against live bullets. All of the guys have looked pretty solid in the backfield.”
On Mewelde Moore being the go-to-guy, in Pittsburgh, when other running backs got hurt:
“Yeah, it’s funny. He had a bunch of roles. Third down was one. But when, I think it was Willie Parker, got hurt the one year he started, he had 130 (yards) against Cincinnati, 120. He was our goal line runner. We usually put him in the end of the game to run out the clock because he always put the ball where it was suppose to be. It was a great trust thing.”
On running back Deji Karim:
“He’s a speed guy. He brings a ton of speed to the position. His best chance is, you know, obviously kick-returner and homerun hitter in the backfield. We’ll see how he plays between the tackles.”
On quarterback Drew Stanton:
“I’ve seen great improvement. His accuracy has improved a ton, that’s gone along with his knowledge of what we’re trying to get done. He’s had an excellent camp. Every now and then he’ll throw one in there thinking his arm is strong enough and he’ll throw a pick, and just learn from that and don’t do it again. But I’ve been real pleased with him. I feel comfortable if we had to play him that we could win a ball game.”
On the challenges of developing quarterbacks:
“Each and every one is so different. You know, you always say you’d like to get a running game going, boom, boom, boom and run the ball. Well that works nice if you can run the ball and get it into third-and-five or less. If you’re going to put him back there, run it twice, and be in third-and-seven and eight all the time he’s going to get killed. He’s not learning how to throw the football on first-and-ten. I think you still have to be balanced. He has to have a great command of what he’s trying to get done. He has to know his protections because that’s when you get killed, on your hots and your blitzes; especially now with all the zone blitz fires and things that we see. He has to be inside out, up-and-down, on the money on his protections and then building a rapport with his receivers sometimes is a little overrated. We run everything on timing so that part has to be there, especially in the redzone when you’ll know a guy’s subtle moves and stuff. But the protection part of it is the biggest thing in getting ready to play.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Deji Karim, Delone Carter, donald brown, drew stanton, Mewelde Moore, vick ballard
Posted in Colts Blog