Under the bright lights, a hostile road environment and going up against one of the most accomplished teams in the NFL over the past decade, a handful of Colts rookies more than held their own in Week 2 of the preseason.
Running back Vick Ballard: Ballard made the most of extended playing time with the first team offense. He led the rushing attack with 10 carries while filling in for injured backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has been high on the rookie running back dating back to minicamp, stating he needed to see Ballard in pads before assessing the pass blocking skills of the Mississippi State product. The offensive line, along with running backs Donald Brown and Ballard, did a nice job of keeping quarterback Andrew Luck upright on the evening. Luck was sacked once in 25 attempts against a Steelers defense which led the NFL in 2011.
Wide receiver Griff Whalen: The young receivers seem to be plugged in one after another and performing admirably in Arians’ offense. Whalen sat out the early portion of training camp due to a foot injury, but was able to practice all of last week before making his NFL debut against the Steelers. The rookie from Stanford had an eight-yard reception on the Colts last drive of the first half which led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Whalen finished the game with four catches for 59 yards and caught a four-yard touchdown from quarterback Drew Stanton. He has added another name to an already loaded position with young talent that saw ample playing time on Sunday with wide receivers Donnie Avery and Austin Collie sidelined.
Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener: Allen caught his first NFL pass in the Steelers game and finished the contest with two grabs for 18 yards. The versatile Allen lined up in a variety of spots and had the Colts first catch of the evening. Fleener caught three balls for 33 yards with a long reception of 24. Allen and Fleener both had first down receptions on the Colts first touchdown drive.
Outside linebacker Jerry Brown: Brown might be the least heralded of all the Colts outside linebackers but his production led all defenders against the Steelers. The seven tackles Brown made tied Jerry Hughes for the team lead. At 6-foot-4-inches and 265 pounds, Brown fits the outside linebacker frame the hybrid 3-4 defense calls for. Brown was signed by the Colts during minicamp and has had the beneficiary of being a member of the same position group as Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Against the Steelers, Brown had two of the team’s six tackles for loss and recorded a tackle on special teams.
Tags: Coby Fleener, dwayne allen, Griff Whalen, Jerry Brown, vick ballard
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