Next man up.
With the news Friday that second-year running back Vick Ballard suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Thursday’s practice, the Indianapolis Colts will now be forced to depend on Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown and rookie Kerwynn Williams for the foreseeable future.
Ballard went down on what Colts head coach Chuck Pagano described as a “freak” type of injury. He has been placed on the team’s injured reserve list and will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2013 season.
“It was a non-contact injury. Just put a foot on the ground, went to cut on a running play and the knee went out on him,” Pagano said after Friday’s morning workout. “[Magnetic resonance imaging test] showed that he’s got an ACL tear and he’ll require season-ending surgery.
“We feel awful for Vick. We all know that Vick was headed towards having a fabulous year. We know and understand that injuries are part of this game. We’ll deal with it. Nobody handles adversity quite like this team and this locker room. It’s next man up.
“Vick will get through is. Knowing him and his mindset and his work ethic, he’ll come back stronger than ever in 2014.”
With Ballard out of the mix, Bradshaw, Brown and Williams, who was elevated off the practice squad, will be expected to pick up the slack.
Signed as a veteran free agent the first week of June after beginning his NFL career with the New York Giants, Bradshaw will most likely start Sunday against Miami. He saw limited playing time in last week’s season-opening win over Oakland, picking up 26 yards on just seven carries. That workload is expected to increase quite a bit against the Dolphins.
“I’m ready,” Bradshaw said Friday. “You have to be ready each Sunday and you never know what happens. But I’ll be ready.”
The seventh-year NFL veteran certainly has the experience. Bradshaw rushed for 4,232 yards and 32 touchdowns in six seasons with the Giants. He had two 1,000-yard seasons, including last year’s 1,015 yards and six touchdowns.
If there’s been a knock on the 5-foot-10, 217-pound running back in recent seasons, it’s been an issue with foot injuries. Bradshaw underwent two surgical procedures on his right foot this past offseason and did not participate in training camp or play in any preseason games.
Brown also has experience, starting 15 of 50 games for Indianapolis since being the team’s No. 1 draft pick in 2009. He has gained 1,840 yards and run for 11 touchdowns over the past four seasons. He had ankle and knee issues last year.
“It happens, unfortunately. It’s the game of football. It’s not the first time [injuries have] happened to somebody on this team this season and unfortunately it probably won’t be the last,” Brown said Friday.
“It’s a very tough injury. You hate to see somebody who puts in the work like he did, you hate to see it happen to somebody like that. But it’s the next man up and you have to keep rolling. Since day one, it’s been the mindset. The preparation hasn’t changed. I’m just ready to roll and be ready for Sunday.”
Williams, meanwhile, was a seventh-round pick by Indianapolis last spring. He was impressive during spring and training camp work as well as in the preseason. The former Utah State standout was released prior to the start of the regular season and then signed to practice squad one he cleared waivers.
The Colts are expected to sign another another running back to the practice squad to replace Williams. Indianapolis might decide to bring back Delone Carter, who was traded to Baltimore late in the preseason and was then subsequently released by the Ravens. Carter was a fourth-round draft pick by the Colts in 2011.
• Game availability — Pagano said that tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) did not practice Friday and is questionable for the Miami game. He is expected to be a game-time decision.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer (concussion) has been cleared and had practiced this week. He is probable and may start.
Inside linebackers Kavell Conner (ankle) and Jerrell Freeman (quad) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (hamstring) were limited in practice Friday and are questionable. All are game-time decisions.
Wide receiver/kick returner David Reed (quad) has not practiced and will not play Sunday.