Indianapolis Colts Football

RUNNING BACK POSITION DEEPER THAN JUST VICK BALLARD AND DONALD BROWN

Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 5, 2013 – 7:20 am

Colts running backs coach David Walker does not live in a fantasy land.

In a perfect world, Walker would rely on one main back in 2013 with a backup sprinkled in at opportune times.

That’s not how the NFL operates with the rate of injuries that occur on a weekly basis.

Names like Delone Carter and Kerwynn Williams might not be focal points heading into the regular season but if history is any indication than they will be relied on in 2013.

Carter is entering his third season in the NFL and has battled through injuries to find a niche as a short-yardage runner that accounted for three touchdowns last season.

“He’s obviously shown he can do it. He’s been in games his first two years,” Walker said of the 238-pound Carter.

“But whatever combination of three guys, four guys there’s going to come a point, unfortunately, where someone’s going to twist an ankle, going to be out, someone’s got to get in and kind of take over that role for the time or for a few plays. All of our jobs are just make sure whomever we put in there is able to be productive and we don’t miss a beat.”

Williams is barely a month into his NFL career so any forecast on where he might fit into the running back position will have to wait until the pads are put on in late July.

For many rookies, special teams can be an early avenue to immediate playing time and that could very well be the case with Williams at the kick returner position.

“He’s a smart kid, a good learner, a good worker,” Walker said of Williams’ prognosis at running back.

“He understands the schemes, answers questions for us in meetings but we’ll have to see him a little bit more on the field before we make a determination how much he’s going to help.”

Last season it was Vick Ballard and Donald Brown that dominated the backfield for the Colts.

But people should not forget Delone Carter’s hard-nosed running late in the Colts overtime victory over the Titans.

Walker feels he’s got a group of guys that bring different skill sets within the Colts offense and sees contributions coming from a number of players.

“Whenever your number is called be ready to contribute and play and play to a high standard,” Walker said of his message in the running backs room. “We don’t really look to what guys can’t do, we look to what guys can do and put them into situations where they can have success.”


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OFFENSIVE ASSISTANT COACHES OFFER PERSPECTIVE ON POSITION GROUPS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 28, 2013 – 9:29 am

We are 100 days away from the start of the 2013 NFL season with the Colts wrapping up OTAs over the next two weeks.

Last week the Colts assistant coaches were made available to the media and offered some great perspective into their position group.

Colts.com will take a closer look into these groups over the coming weeks and here is a preview of comments from the various offensive assistant coaches:

Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen is the longest tenured coach on the Colts staff yet he has the luxury this offseason of something he has never really seen during his 11 seasons in Indianapolis.

Matt Hasselbeck brings 15 seasons of NFL experience to the Colts quarterbacks room and has already made an impression with his fellow signal callers.

“You can see Chandler (Harnish) and Andrew (Luck) look at (Hasselbeck) and go ‘Whoa, this guy comes out slinging it’ and just has run the concept so many times the ball comes out quick. He knows what’s going on, the way he studies and then just has a professional air about him that’s different from your average football player. He’s been great. He’s been terrific. There’s a guy, same thing, that after that many years, you’d dread these practices. He might be the most excited, comes in excited every day and has some fun and keeps the place loose. He’s been terrific.”

Running backs coach David Walker was a victim of injuries across his position group last season with Vick Ballard being the lone constant over the course of the season.

Walker was very high on Ballard when he came out of Mississippi State in 2012 and after an 814-yard rookie campaign, it’s the little things that are the focus this offseason.

“The good lord has given (Ballard) a lot of physical ability. It’s not so much he needs to get bigger, faster, stronger. It’s how he trains his eyes, gets better as a pro. Like anything, to be able to sense things before they happen that’s the key at any position and with experience that’s going to come forward.”

Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert is familiar with most of his group but now he is the one leading the room after spending last season as an assistant offensive line coach.

Curious minds have wondered what type of schemes the Colts offensive line will implement this season and Gilbert cleared that up with a detailed answer.

“I mean we’ve got everything. We’re a gap team. We’ve got gap schemes, we’ve got zone schemes, we’ve got man schemes. I think the one thing we’ve got enough of in our arsenal is we can pick and choose game week going in and seeing how somebody going to defend us. How can we take advantage of them personnel-wise? How can we create mismatches by formations and by schemes. I think that gives us a little bit of flexibility with what we have.”


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COLTS DAILY HEADLINES: MAY 24TH EDITION

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 24, 2013 – 9:13 am

Each morning Colts.com will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?

Take a look below at the top five pieces from Friday, May 24th.

26 Cities With Young Franchise-Caliber Duos

By: Staff, Indianapolis Star

Thanks to a tremendous 2012-2013 seasons for a pair of Indianapolis finest professional athletes, the state capitol is starting to garner some attention with Andrew Luck and Paul George.

The Indianapolis Star ranked the top 26 city duos taking into consideration players 26-years and younger in the four major sports.

The duo of Luck and George find themselves No. 3 on the list behind San Francisco’s Buster Posey and Colin Kapernick and Washington D.C.’s Robert Griffin III and Bryce Harper.

Here is the analysis of Luck and George:

Luck (23): A Pro Bowler in his rookie season, the No. 1 overall pick in 2012 was tabbed as the best quarterback prospect since John Elway. Not bad company. Luck set a rookie record for passing yards in a single game (433 vs. Miami) and recorded the most wins by a No. 1 overall pick in his rookie season leading the Colts to the postseason. Colts fans were spoiled with Peyton Manning, but Luck has helped ease the pain of No. 18’s departure… and then some.

George (23): After showing glimpses of his All-Star potential in his first two seasons, George broke through in 2013 earning All-NBA third team, the NBA’s Most Improved Player and an All-Star apperance in guiding the Pacers to the Central Division title and Eastern Conference finals. Danny Granger’s injury thrust George into a more prominent role and the Fresno State product has been more than up to the challenge.

Luck having fun with his first OTAs

By: Tom James, Terre Haute Tribune-Star

James followed in a similar fashion to the pieces we saw yesterday on the Colts Wednesday OTA open to the media.

He mentions about Luck finally being able to take part in all of the Colts OTA schedule, along with the quarterback’s high praise for new wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

“Darrius had been great. He’s been a great addition. He has great speed, obviously, and he’s got a real knack for football,” he said. “He’s played a lot of football and he understands situations. He’s a good force in the wide receiver rotation. He’s done a phenomenal job so far.”

James provides a brief update on who didn’t participate in Wednesday’s OTA and talks about running backs coach David Walker’s assessment of the running back position.

On Tony Dungy changing player habits

By: Paul Kuharsky, ESPN AFC South Blog

ESPN is in the process of a project that ranks the top 20  coaches in NFL history.

At No. 20 checks former Colts leader Tony Dungy.

The piece highlights Dungy’s greatest accomplishment of helping the Colts capture Super Bowl XLI.

Kuharsky points out an excerpt from the book “The Power of Habit” that mentions Dungy.

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things,” Dungy would explain. “They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”


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IN THIS DAY AND AGE OF THE NFL, MORE THAN ONE RUNNING BACK IS NEEDED

Posted by Kevin Bowen on – 7:40 am

The NFL is an ever-changing league.

New offensive and defensive schemes are implemented every year with trends and fads making for endless nights for coaches around the NFL.

One of those tendencies has caused for deeper and deeper backfields in the recent years.

Personnel departments all over the NFL know the need for more than one reliable threat in the running game and position coaches echo the same notion

“Most people are going to use two, if not three (running backs), unless you are fortunate enough to coach in Minnesota where you give one guy (Adrian Peterson) the ball the majority of the time,” Colts running backs coach David Walker said earlier this week.

Last season the Colts utilized a trio of backs who carried the ball at least 32 times.

Player Carries Yards YPC Touchdowns
Vick Ballard 211 814 3.9 2
Donald Brown 108 417 3.9 1
Delone Carter 32 122 3.8 3

Injuries late in the season forced Walker to rely heavily on Vick Ballard and while the rookie was extremely productive, his running backs coach knows that for long-term success a stable of runners is needed.

“We’ve got a group of guys that have different skill sets but within the realm of offense, they all can be solid contributors,” Walker said.

“So whenever your number is called, be ready to contribute and play to a high standard. We don’t really look to what guys can’t do, we look to what guys can do and put them into situations where they can have success.”

In 2012, Brown began the season as the starter but a knee injury forced Ballard into the No. 1 role, where he thrived.

Walker knows that the guy who is getting 20+ carries in September might not be in the fold later in the season.

It’s life in the NFL and to prepare for that Walker feels the Colts have a trio of established backs that will each hear their number called in 2013.

“We’ve got a good group and really we’ve got to continue to develop the third guy because just like last year and the season before, at some point, whoever is third on our depth chart is going to be starting a football game and helping us have to win,” Walker said.

“What we realize is we’re going to need three very capable backs to get us through the season.”


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COLTS DAILY HEADLINES: MAY 16TH EDITION

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 16, 2013 – 8:25 am

Each morning Colts.com will take a look at the top headlines surrounding the Indianapolis Colts from around the globe. What is the local and national media saying about the Colts?

Take a look below at the top five pieces from Thursday, May 16th:

Ex-Colts’ OLB Dwight Freeney headed to San Diego? Stay tuned

By: Mike Chappell, Indianapolis Star

It was only a matter of time before Dwight Freeney’s name resurfaced with NFL teams and that time came on Wednesday.

With the Chargers losing former first round draft pick Melvin Ingram to an ACL injury, the need is there for an edge rusher.

Freeney’s visit to San Diego is scheduled to run through today as the possibility is there for him to be reunited with former Colts Vice President of Football Operations and current Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco.

Colts liking Vick Ballard as lead running back

By: Paul Kuharsky, ESPN.com

In a recent interview Kuharsky had with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, the topic came up of Vick Ballard as the top running back for the Colts.

Pagano knows the benefit of having a couple of change the pace type backs and the coach also broke down what Ballard and fellow 2012 starter Donald Brown bring to the table.

“Vick is a solid, solid guy; Donnie is a home run hitter,” Pagano said. “If he gets the edge and hits a crease, he can take it the distance. For Vick, look at that last drive of the regular season against the Texans: We got the ball with 9:46 on the clock, we ran 12 plays, 11 runs, and we ended up taking a knee. Vick took the lion’s share of carries on that drive. He just keeps getting stronger, the more carries he has the better he gets.”

Accepting nominations for Colts’ Mt. Rushmore

By: Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk

The popular Pro Football Talk has moved onto the AFC teams in accepting nominations for Mt. Rushmore candidates with the Colts the first team up.

Florio writes that the four players can be chosen from the Baltimore and Indianapolis era with John Unitas and Peyton Manning being two of the obvious choices.

The final four will be revealed on NBC Sports Network sometime next month.


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VICK BALLARD NAMED ONE OF NFL’S BEST PLAYERS UNDER THE AGE OF 23

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 14, 2013 – 1:33 pm

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports compiled an interesting list earlier this week when he ranked the top 10 players in the NFL under the age of 23.

Last year’s top two picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III missed the cut off at the age of 23 but the Colts did find themselves represented on the list.

Check out Prisco’s top-10 list here and his analysis on the Colts representative.

10. Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis Colts As a rookie fifth-round pick in 2012, he ran for 814 yards and showed a powerful running style. He will get even more carries in 2013 as he takes over as the starter (Prisco).

 

Bowen’s Take: To many Colts fans it might come as a surprise that Ballard’s name finds this list. Sure, Ballard had a tremendous rookie campaign but consider that he’s the lone player on Prisco’s list that wasn’t a first or second round selection out of college. (Josh Gordon was a supplemental selection of the Browns and Cleveland eventually forfeited a second round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft).

The list includes just three skill position players and they all come from the AFC in Trent Richardson, Gordon and Ballard. Along with Luck, both Dwayne Allen and T.Y. Hilton fall in the 23-year old age group. It’s nice to see a player like Ballard gain some national recognition after a season in which he (understandably) flew under the radar thanks to his fellow rookie teammates.

For those curious, Ballard will turn 23 years old on July 16th.


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OFFSEASON QUESTIONS FOR THE COLTS POSED BY SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 13, 2013 – 9:22 am

There will be a lot of introductions going around NFL locker rooms on Monday morning as teams incorporate their rookie classes with OTAs continuing through the rest of the month.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke posed a couple of question surrounding the Colts with rosters growing to 90 on the practice field this week.

Below are his two questions on the Colts and both Burke and I offer our analysis on the proposed issues.

Will any of the running backs step up?

  • Burke’s Analysis: This sure feels like Vick Ballard’s job to lose after he led the team in rushing last season. Nobody on the depth chart appears on the cusp of stardom, though, from Ballard to Donald Brown to seventh-rounder Kerwynn Williams. Ballard’s 814-yard rookie year at least gives Indianapolis something on which to build.
  • Bowen’s Analysis: I would have to agree with Burke’s notion that the running back job is Vick Ballard’s to lose. Ballard was productive in his rookie season and that was running behind an offensive line that has improved in the offseason and an offense that appears to be utilizing more of a fullback than last year. I could very well see Ballard being a consistent 1,000+-yard rusher for years to come. Donald Brown (speed) and Delone Carter (power) both fit a role at the running back position but it’s hard to imagine either of them supplanting Ballard as the starter. Kerwynn Williams’ first crack at making a contribution should be on special teams but the return threat also showed at rookie minicamp this past weekend that he can catch the ball out of the backfield and has a chance to find a role as a third down back.

Position Battles: Erik Walden vs. Bjoern Werner, OLB, Colts:

  • Burke’s Analysis: This ought to be an interesting one with Walden, arguably overpaid in free agency at four years and $16 million, taking on Werner, whom many thought should play DE in the pros. The winner gets to start opposite Robert Mathis at OLB in the Colts’ 3-4 scheme. Walden was underwhelming as a Packer, which is why Green Bay let him walk without any semblance of a fight this offseason. He could hold down the fort, at least early as Werner learns the ins and outs of playing linebacker.
  • Bowen’s Analysis: First off, let’s make this clear that this is a great problem to have at the outside linebacker position. Pro Bowler Robert Mathis is the obvious starter at one side of the linebacker corps but the other side has two quality candidates. Walden has been raved about for his ability to set the edge and he was one of the bigger splashes the Colts made in free agency. Werner will get his first taste of veterans in the NFL this week during OTAs, after the Colts first round draft pick had a very solid start to his professional career at rookie minicamp. Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky made it clear that there will be times this year where all three will be on the field together and expect this specific battle to last well into August with two dynamic edge players, both of which will play a good portion of defensive snaps come the regular season.

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ANDREW LUCK JOINS NFL NETWORK CREW FOR INTERVIEW ON OTA’s

Posted by Kevin Bowen on May 10, 2013 – 7:50 am

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was a guest on NFL Network’s Total Access on Wednesday evening for an interview with Scott Hanson.

This time last season Luck was balancing finishing up courses at Stanford while trying to find time for his first round of OTAs at the NFL level.

In 2013, it’s all football this time of year for Luck and Hanson covered that topic and a few others with the Colts signal caller.

Below is the full Luck interview and some of his quotes are under the video link.

Andrew Luck’s NFL Total Access Interview

On the Colts’ improvement last season and what that means for this season:

“Great for last year, glad we did some positive things. What we did last year doesn’t have any bearing – the good things, the bad things – on what is going on this year. It is nice, personally, to have a year under the belt and a little experience, but we know the road gets that much harder and we are trying to improve.”

On feeling more comfortable being in the NFL heading into his second season compared to last year:

“I am 100% more comfortable. On this day last year, I was probably sitting in class ready to get out of there and go to a rookie minicamp.  It is nice to be able to have the full offseason with the team. We have changed [offensive] coordinators, but I have had a great relationship with Pep Hamilton from before. To be around him and talk his style of offense has been great. It is just nice to be around the guys.”

On the hiring of new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton:

“I do remember someone asking my opinion of Coach Hamilton way early on, right after Coach Bruce Arians left.  I gave him 100% endorsement. I am really glad he is here and really happy for Coach Arians down in Arizona as well.  What a wonderful opportunity for him. I don’t think anybody else deserves to be a head coach in this league more than he does.  But I am glad Pep is coming in, I’m glad I don’t have to learn a completely new playbook. I think he is going to do great with us here.”

On if the Colts offense will be different under Hamilton:

“His offense is different; like B.A.’s, every coordinators offense has its own intricacies. It is too early to say [the biggest difference.] I think we will start to have a feel for that during OTAs when we can go against a defense. There will be different plays, but in the end, it is still football. You still have to go out there and make the plays.”

On the improvement of the Colts this season due to himself, T.Y Hilton, Vick Ballard, among others, gaining more experience and building off last season’s success:

“Hopefully we can build off the experience us young guys and the old guys – and continue to get better. I think we are very fortunate to have to great veteran leadership – Robert Mathis, Reggie Wayne, Cory Redding, Antoine Bethea – that really have set the standard here and know how to win. We just try to follow their lead but hopefully us second and third year guys improve and help the team out.”


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CURRENT COLTS REMEMBER THEIR OWN DRAFT MOMENTS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on April 25, 2013 – 10:00 am

With the 2013 NFL Draft less than 12 hours away, Colts.com takes a look back at a few of the team’s recent draft picks and their stories of draft weekend:

Running Back Delone Carter (2011 NFL Draft: Pick 4-119)

Carter came out of Syracuse fresh off a dominating 2010 Pinstripe Bowl performance (197 yards on 28 carries) but he wasn’t about to read into any draft projections. Watching with family and friends, Carter actually dozed off during the 2011 NFL Draft before his mom awoke him with a phone call from the Colts.

On Wednesday, Carter offered some advice to prospects who will spend the next three days nervously awaiting their name to be called at Radio City Music Hall.

“Enjoy the process,” Carter said. “Don’t get too anxious and get yourself out of the element of having fun with it. It’s a blessing and it will never happen again. It’s something you’ve been training for your whole life and you’re having the opportunity to have it happen.”

Defensive Tackle Drake Nevis (2011 NFL Draft: Pick 3-87)

It was getting late on day two of the 2011 NFL Draft and Nevis was in his home state of Louisiana watching the draft with his family.

Nevis hailed from LSU, where NFL defensive linemen were abundant. The National Championship winning Nevis was added to that list when then Colts general manager Bill Polian phoned the Tigers defensive end.

“It was exciting because that’s what you dream about all your life, playing in the National Football League,” Nevis said. “Even though that’s the beginning, you know that’s where the next phase of your career is going to be.”

Running Back Vick Ballard (2012 NFL Draft: 5-170)

As the fifth round was coming to a close in last April’s draft, Vick Ballard still felt a bit of a burden. He was coming off back-to-back seasons of 980+ rushing yards in the vaunted SEC West, yet was still waiting to hear his dream come true.

“When I got drafted, it was a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Ballard said. “To me, it was the first step to becoming a professional football player.”

Offensive Tackle Justin Anderson (2012 NFL Draft: 7-208)

Anderson did not really know what to expect after injuries held him back during his time at Georgia. For Anderson, he was simply praying that he would hear his name called; the round or position did not matter.

“I couldn’t even watch it past the fourth round,” Anderson said. “I just stopped watching it and I didn’t watch it anymore until I got called. The Steelers called me in the sixth round saying they had a couple of picks coming up. About 10 minutes after I hung up with them the Colts called and it was the best feeling in the world.”


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BALLARD READY TO WRITE 2013 CHAPTER

Posted by Kevin Bowen on April 23, 2013 – 1:25 pm

A year into what he hopes is a long and productive NFL career, Vick Ballard is dealing with change.

The change comes with a new offensive system in year two and any questions to Ballard about his 814-yard rookie season will undoubtedly lead to what’s ahead, not what’s behind.

“I tried to close the book,” Ballard said of looking back on the 2012 season in which he finished second among all AFC rookie running backs in rushing yards.

“That was last year and this is this year. We’ve got high expectations and I’m just working on them.”

From an individual standpoint, Ballard pointed to his yards per carry rising above four (he averaged 3.9 yards per carry last season) as something he is striving for in 2013.

One addition that should help that number is the acquisition of fullback Stanley Havili.

“It’s really like having another offensive lineman to me because as many blockers as you can get is always good, especially when you’ve got the ball in your hand,” Ballard said of the presence of a fullback.

The 211 carries Ballard had last year could very well rise this season and the Mississippi State product said the time off has helped his body rest up from the ‘bumps and bruises’ he had following a rookie campaign in which he played in every game.

At times last season Ballard would shake his head when media hoarded the lockers of Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, which flank No. 33.

Now the media is gaining numbers around Ballard and while the attention is one thing, the play on the field in 2013 is the only thing that matters.

We came a long way for it to come to an end all of a sudden,” Ballard said. “It left a bitter taste in our mouth and I think we’ve still got that bitter taste and we don’t want to have it at the end of this season.”

Follow Kevin Bowen on Twitter at @KBowenColts.


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