When it comes to talking about the Indianapolis Colts’ 2012 rookie class, running back Vick Ballard may get lost in the conversation.
After all, quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen and wide receivers T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill get most of the attention. And for good reason. They’re all talented and are being counted on to be valuable contributors this season.
But Ballard, the Colts’ fifth-round pick, is also quickly making a name for himself. The former Mississippi State running back quickly caught the eye of Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians during the team’s organized team activity workouts and mini-camps last spring — so much so that Arians offered up a somewhat startling comment, comparing Ballard to a young Edgerrin James.
Considering that James ended his seven-year Colts career (1999-2005) as the franchise’s all-time leading rusher with 9,226 yards and 64 rushing touchdowns (also a club career record), that’s pretty high praise.
“I didn’t know [Arians] said that,” a somewhat embarrassed Ballard said during training camp. “It’s an honor to be compared to somebody like that. [James] had a great career.”
A native of Pascagoula, Miss., Ballard began his collegiate career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, where he earned first-team junior college All-America status as a sophomore.
After transferring to Mississippi State, he wound up starting 23 of 25 games and rushing for 2,157 yards and 29 touchdowns over two seasons. Ballard ran for a team-high 1,189 yards and 10 TDs as a collegiate senior.
Since coming to Indianapolis last April, he has battled veterans Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Darren Evans and Deji Karim for practice time. Right before the start of training camp, former Pittsburgh Steeler Mewelde Moore was added to the mix.
Ballard, though, has continued to impress. When Carter and Moore both went down with rib injuries in the Colts’ preseason-opening win over St. Louis, he received more practice time and playing time the following week.
In Sunday night’s 26-24 preseason loss at Pittsburgh, Ballard had a team-high 34 yards rushing in 10 attempts. Modest stats, to be sure, but it was how he picked up those yards, how he carried himself in the game.
One play in particular stood out. Early in the second quarter, Ballard took a handoff from Luck on a play that was designed to go inside. But with tacklers converging, he did a spin move in the hole and bounced the play outside for a 12-yard gain. Impressive.
“It all comes down to instinct. It wasn’t like I planned [to make the spin move] … I just know that I did it,” Ballard said earlier this week. “I went back and looked at the [game tape]. I saw there was a defender in the hole and spun out. I was just trying to make a positive play.”
Arians remains a big supporter.
“I love Vick. I think he’s shown that he has a lot of the tools to play every down. He’s running hard and he’s pass protected well. He’s got everything it takes to be a solid back in this league,” the Colts assistant coach praised.
“Just finding his niche [is the key]. One thing about injuries, [it’s] when you get an opportunity. And he’s done well with his opportunity.”
Colts coach Chuck Pagano also likes what he’s seen from his first-year running back so far.
“I think he’s ahead of the learning curve. He’s doing a great job in the running game and the pass game. The protection stuff is coming around on third down. But he’s a dynamic runner. He’s got make-miss ability. He’s strong. He gets extra yards,” Pagano said.
“I don’t think you ever see him go backwards. Even after first contact, he’s going to make people miss. He’s going to have a lot of yards after contact. Just because of the style of runner [that he is], he can jump cut and make a lot of guys miss. We can get a hat on almost everybody, but every now and then that guy [the running back] has to make somebody miss. And he’s got that ability. We’re really pleased with his progress to this point.”
• Plenty of tickets — Safety Antoine Bethea likes playing at Fed Ex Field, where the Washington Redskins play their home games.
Indianapolis and the Redskins will face off at 4 p.m. Saturday in the third preseason game for both teams. Fed Ex Field is located about two hours from Bethea’s hometown of Newport News, Va. He played collegiately at Howard University, which has its campus in downtown Washington. So anytime that the Colts play in the area, his ticket list and his phone call list get longer.
“I think I’ve got about 25 tickets lined up,” Bethea said Thursday. “By now, most of my friends and family have already gotten their tickets and paid for them themselves. So it’s not too bad.”
• Facing Garçon — In addition to the hype surrounding Saturday’s game of Luck facing off against Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, there’s the side story of the Colts meeting up with former Indianapolis receiver Pierre Garçon.
Garçon played 2008-11 for the Colts (catching 188 passes for 2,529 yards and 16 touchdowns) but left this past offseason. He signed a lucrative free-agent deal with Washington this past spring.
“We’ve talked a little bit [since Garçon left],” Bethea acknowledged Thursday. “I expect that we’ll talk a little bit [Saturday].”
And what happens if Garçon were cross his path during the game?
“I might give him a little bump here and there,” the veteran free safety said with a smile.
When it comes to talking about the Indianapolis Colts’ 2012 rookie class, running back Vick Ballard may get lost in the conversation.
Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years
Shortly before 10 a.m. Friday, Pat McAfee — the Indianapolis Colts’ punter and kickoff specialist — tweeted that he had a special announcement to make at the top of the hour.
Colts excited to add talent, experience of D'Qwell Jackson
With the National Football League's veteran free agency period set to start on March 11, the Indianapolis Colts front office has started to make the decisions needed to retool for the 2014 season.
Former Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had been released by Cleveland on Feb. 26, signed a reported four-year, $22 million deal with Indianapolis on Thursday. Only the first two years of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson (6-foot, 240) started 96-of-97 games over the past eight seasons with the Browns since being selected by the team in the second round of the 2006 draft. He played collegiately at Maryland.
EIU’s Garoppolo hopes to impress scouts
Let the Eastern Illinois University quarterback tradition continue.
Mike Shanahan, Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo. All were record-setting quarterbacks on the Division II and FCS levels.
Grigson says Colts likely not to make big splash in free agency
Don’t expect the Indianapolis Colts to go wild in the upcoming free-agent market.
While the Colts will have anywhere from $33 to $37 million to spend this offseason, Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson says the franchise will be a bit more selective when it comes to signing any prospective veteran free agents.
SEASON IN REVIEW: Colts make progress in 2013 season
The Indianapolis Colts made plenty of progress over the course of the 2013 season.
And the Colts fought through some adversity as injuries hit the team hard at several positions, most notably at wide receiver (Reggie Wayne), tight end (Dwayne Allen), running back (Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw), offensive line (Donald Thomas) and cornerback (Greg Toler).
Moving on: Coach likes what he sees, gets ready for phase three of Colts’ development
Time to move on. In the wake of the Indianapolis Colts’ 43-22 AFC divisional playoff loss at New England last Saturday night, head coach Chuck Pagano is ready to take time off and then start getting after it again late this spring.
Blunt force trauma: Patriots running game too much for Colts
LeGarrette Blount ran the New England Patriots into their third straight AFC championship game.
The 250-pound back had four touchdown runs and New England kept Andrew Luck from a second straight comeback win to beat the Indianapolis Colts 43-22 Sunday night.
‘Still the same Tom’
How do you attempt to stop, or even slow down, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
Belichick impressed with Luck's skills, poise under pressure
Bill Belichick doesn’t have to be reminded about the talents of Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
Although Belichick’s New England Patriots handed the Colts a 59-24 loss in Foxboro last year, he came away from the game with plenty of respect for the young signal caller.
Colts, Patriots, both with many new faces, to meet in playoffs for fourth time
Here we go again. Yet another Indianapolis Colts-New England Patriots playoff game.
Up next for Colts: Brady, Patriots
Hello Tom Brady.
Thanks to the San Diego Chargers’ 27-10 AFC wild-card playoff win over Cincinnati on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts will be traveling to Foxboro, Massachusetts to face Brady’s New England Patriots Saturday (8:15 p.m.).
Luck leads huge rally as Colts grab first playoff win for Pagano
What a game.
Just when it looked like the Indianapolis Colts were going to be blown out at home in an AFC wild-card playoff game by the Kansas City Chiefs, the impossible happened.
Colts sell out today's Kansas City game
There will be no local television blackouts in the NFL this weekend.
The Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers said Friday that their weekend wild-card playoff games are sellouts. Normally, teams must sell out 72 hours before kickoff to have a game broadcast in their local market. The NFL gave the Colts, Bengals and Packers an extra day to do it.
The Colts host Kansas City today. On Sunday, the Packers host San Francisco and the Bengals host San Diego.
NFL honors Colts' Mathis with Deacon Jones Award
Robert Mathis never got to see Deacon Jones take down opposing quarterbacks in person.
He learned to appreciate Jones’ creativity over time.
The Colts Pro Bowl linebacker and newly crowned sacks champion was honored Thursday as the inaugural winner of the NFL’s Deacon Jones Award, which goes to the league’s sacks leader. Mathis will be recognized at the NFL award banquet Feb. 1.
Victory over Chiefs means nil, Mathis says
Robert Mathis doesn’t care that the Indianapolis Colts registered a 23-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium two weeks ago.
Record-setting Indy win
Finish the National Football League regular season strong. That’s what the Indianapolis Colts wanted to accomplish Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
In major gain, Colts lead NFL in fewest turnovers
Play clean. That’s been a credo that the Indianapolis Colts have tried to live by this season.
Has Luck's growth been accelerated by Colts' adversity? Probably
Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck is quickly becoming known as a guy who can quickly adjust to any situation.
Toeing the line: Colts’ offensive line getting healthy, finding niche as playoffs near
The Indianapolis Colts’ offensive line has certainly taken its share of hits this season, both on and off the field.
Colts’ chief strength: No panic
The Indianapolis Colts had watched the Kansas City Chiefs march downfield for an easy score on the first series of the game, yet nobody on their sideline seemed to be worried.
In fact, it seemed as if their confidence soared.
Luck has knack for knowing when to run
To run or not to run. When it comes to Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck, his competitive nature usually comes into play.
Loss at Chiefs could cost Colts bye in playoffs
Chuck Pagano doesn’t have to make his Indianapolis Colts players aware of the playoff implications surrounding the team’s road game at Kansas City on Sunday.
Back in the mix: Colts are hoping to improve their playoff seeding in final two weeks of NFL’s regular season
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano stresses that he is not a scoreboard watcher when it comes to other National Football League games.
Back in stride: Colts finally put points on board early, roll to ninth victory of season
It had been a long time in coming, a National Football League game in which the Indianapolis Colts had a comfortable lead well into the second half.
Whalen, Richardson make waves on offense
It’s not too hard to figure out who the offensive and defensive players of the game were in the Indianapolis Colts’ 25-3 win over Houston Sunday.
Mathis, Colts hoping to gain defensive momentum against Texans
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis, one of the Indianapolis Colts two most vested veterans, has taken it upon himself to make sure his team is ready for Sunday’s AFC South matchup with Houston (1 p.m., CBS Sports).
Mathis and injured wide receiver Reggie Wayne have been with the Colts the longest. They, along with defensive end Cory Redding and safety Antoine Bethea, have become important voices in the Indianapolis locker room.
Colts not apologizing for way they won division title
Backing into the AFC South title? The Indianapolis Colts are not apologizing to anyone for claiming the franchise’s eighth division crown since the start of the 2002 season.
Bungles — including refs’ — benefit Bengals
Give the Cincinnati Bengals plenty of credit. In a game that pitted two of the AFC’s better teams and two of the National Football League’s best young quarterbacks, the home-standing Bengals took care of business.
Many doubt Cincy runner scored on goal-line play
Did he make it or didn’t he?
Was Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis stopped on fourth down short of the end zone or did he make to the end zone without being touched?
Heavy snow appears in forecast for Colts
Growing up in Houston, Texas, Andrew Luck doesn’t have a history of playing a lot of football in the snow or in snowy conditions. But if weather forecasts for this weekend remain on track, Sunday’s AFC battle between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals may be severely tested by the weather.
- More Colts Headlines
- Colts re-sign punter McAfee for five years