News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 30, 2012

LP Field Leap

Colts rookie running back Ballard shrugs off attention after dynamic, game-winning play

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Rookie Vick Ballard admits that he’s a little uneasy about all the attention Sunday’s LP Field leap into the end zone is garnering among Indianapolis Colts fans and the team’s media.

Don’t get Ballard wrong. The first-year running back from Mississippi State appreciates all the comments and good wishes that’ve been coming his way after scoring the game-winning touchdown against AFC South rival Tennessee.

But it’s just not his nature to brag about himself. Ballard doesn’t have much of an ego. He’s a team guy first and foremost, so he would rather talk about how the Colts’ 19-13 victory effects everybody else.

“Special people do special things,” he responded Monday after being asked to describe his backwards somersault on the final play of Sunday’s game. After realizing what he had said, Ballard quickly corrected himself.

“I’m not saying I’m special. But if the time is right, [somebody has to] do something special. So I did.”

In discussing the play, Ballard said that he knew that he wouldn’t be able to reach the end zone unless he attempted the airborne move. He’s had experience with similar situations while in college.

“It wasn’t my first time doing it but it was my first time scoring a touchdown. My first time doing it was actually my junior year against Arkansas in overtime. I ended up fumbling the ball through the end zone and lost the game,” he recalled.

“Then last year I did it and went out at the inch-yard line. This year for me to actually score in my rookie year, in overtime, to win the first game on the road since 2010, it was real big for me.”

As for his LP Field leap, Ballard said that he made a split-second decision to try it again.

“I knew I couldn’t make it there by just running in. So that was my last option, to jump. I knew I couldn’t jump straight because I would have been knocked out of bounds. I didn’t try to flip [backwards]. I just tried to turn sideways. Somehow I ended up on my back. But it all worked out,” he recalled, adding that he didn’t know that he had scored.

“I wasn’t sure at all. I just hopped up and threw my hands up. I saw the referee come up and he threw his hands up too. He said touchdown, so it was a touchdown.”

It wasn’t too long after the game ended that his cell phone started buzzing.

“My phone is vibrating in my pocket right now. It was on [ESPN’s] Top 10 [plays Sunday night]. I’m not sure what number it was, but people have been calling me and texting me. All kinds of stuff,” Ballard said. “It all comes with the job description. You got to do media. Any exposure is good, so I’m happy for it.”

Special guest at game — Ballard’s father picked the right game to watch his son play in the National Football League for the first time.

“It was special for me because he wanted to come to my first start but it was in New York so he wasn’t able to make it,” he said. “Then [the] last game against the Browns, he couldn’t make that game either. He said he wasn’t going to miss this one. It was better because he saw my first [NFL] touchdown.”

Young team coming together — While interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is happy with the win over the Titans, he would like to see the team develop quicker than it has.

“I think we are behind schedule,” he voiced. “We gave one game away that we should have had in our pocket [a 22-17 late-game home loss to Jacksonville],” he said after the Tennessee game. “We are just starting to scratch the surface of how good we can become if we all believe it. I think we’ll show up at practice Wednesday with a lot of enthusiasm.”

Defensive end Cory Redding said that the Colts are beginning to play with a chip on the shoulders.

“If we were to believe all of the writers and all of the naysayers, we would be 0-5 or 0-7 right now. Nobody picked us to win [the Titans] game. But we don’t give a crap about none of that. The men in this locker room are going to fight every week,” Redding said.

“We are going to go out there and play great team ball. [The win over the Titans] showed the heart of this team. I am very proud of my teammates.”

He added that Indianapolis is capable of pulling a few more surprises.

“Every week is crucial. We have to win whether we are at home or on the road. You have to stack wins in this league to be the team that you want to be in January. And we have to learn how to win on the road. No one said that it was going to be pretty.”

Inside linebacker Pat Angerer agrees.

“We’ve gotten four more wins than everyone thought we would have, so that’s good,” Angerer said. “We always knew that we could be a good football team. We are getting there. We are still not there yet. But with a little improvement there and there, we can be alright.”

Pagano visits coaches Monday — Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, who has been undergoing treatments for leukemia since Sept. 26, made an unexpected visit to the team’s headquarters Monday.

“Probably shouldn’t tell you, but Chuck was in our staff meeting today. He had a great visit with his doctors and his counts were way up. He was feeling good, so he stopped in and was able to sit in the office with his staff and listen to everybody’s comments about the game,” Arians said.

“I think it was great medicine for him. He’s doing extremely well and with his white [cell] count going up now that he’s ready for a second round of chemo next week. They’ll hit him pretty good next week and hopefully he’ll be able to be around a little bit more.”

Injury list — There were no updates on the status of cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and rookie tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder). Both were hurt Sunday at Tennessee.

“We’re still waiting for word on Coby Fleener’s shoulder and the MRI coming back on Vontae’s knee. We’ll know more on Wednesday on both those guys. Those guys were the only new additions [to the team’s list of injured players],” Arians said.

“[Defensive tackle] Fili [Moala] and [outside linebacker] Robert [Mathis] hopefully will practice Wednesday. We look forward to having them back out there. [Cornerback] Darius Butler has a chance of [playing Sunday against Miami], so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that he’s able to go as the week progresses also.”

Moala and Mathis are both recovering from knee injuries. Butler has been nursing a sore shoulder.