Indianapolis Colts

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Rookie Ballard is ready for the next level

Posted by Kevin Bowen on June 6, 2012 – 6:23 pm

When the Colts drafted running back Vick Ballard in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft, they knew were getting a guy who was battled tested against college football’s best.

This past season Ballard, a Mississippi State product, rushed for 1,189 yards against a schedule that included four of the top five defenses in the nation.

Those numbers speak for themselves but Ballard was quick to point out that the transition to the next level will take a ton of work.

“It’s all just a big transition from being a student-athlete, to a pro, 24-7 football,” Ballard said. “You just have to be a student of the game, a lot more work to learn the playbook.”

Ballard has been entrenched in the Colts playbook since late April and he finds himself right in the middle of a crowded backfield.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said veteran running back Donald Brown has taken the first team reps during OTA’s but he expects to use multiple backs during the season.

“You just don’t want to wear somebody out,” Pagano said. “You’ve got a bell cow, so to speak, and a lot of teams have a third down guy. So if we can keep guys fresh, and guys are able to go out and execute the offense, then we will use them, for sure.”

During the second part of the season last year, Brown emerged in the backfield including a 161-yard effort in the Colts Week 15 victory over Tennessee.

Before signing running back Deji Karim on May 1, Brown’s three years of NFL experience was more than the other three running backs combined on the roster (Delone Carter and Darren Evans each have one).

The leadership from Brown might not come in the most outspoken way but his presence has rubbed off on Ballard.

“You can learn a lot from Donald because he’s a student of the game,” Ballard said. “I admire just his passion for everything he does.”

Now the passion to play at the next level rest in the hands of Ballard. He calls himself a ‘physical’ runner that is learning to make the jump from college football’s toughest conference to the NFL.

“I’m catching on pretty good now, but when I first got started it was pretty tough,” Ballard said. “It’s all new, a new system is going to be a challenge, but I’m ready.”

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