INDIANAPOLIS – What would the Colts have done without
Injuries took their toll on the Colts backfield in 2012 but week-after-week there was the team’s fifth round pick producing just like he had during his days in the college football’s demanding SEC.
Now, with some healthy veterans returning and a mid-June free agent signing, the Colts rushing attack looks primed for a breakout season in 2013.
HOW MUCH WILL THE COLTS COUNT ON NEW RUNNING BACK AHMAD BRADSHAW?: With the Colts just minutes away from opening up their 2013 minicamp, news broke that the team was adding a two-time Super Bowl champion running back.
Bradshaw is a 1,000-yard running back who has had some impressive outings on the game’s biggest stages, including Lucas Oil Stadium.
The seven-year NFL veteran quickly becomes one of the Colts most experienced players on offense and can help returning 11-game starter Vick Ballard, while also providing the Colts rushing attack a reliable and productive threat.
The NFL is predominantly a two-back league and the addition of Bradshaw, along with the return of Ballard, gives the Colts the ability to rely on a pair of backs who can impact the offense in the rushing, receiving and blocking department.
WHAT DOES VICK BALLARD HAVE IN STORE FOR HIS SECOND SEASON?: Considering Ballard was the No. 170 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, what he was able to accomplish (211 carries and 814 yards in 11 starts) was quite remarkable.
Before the addition of Bradshaw, the general progression would have been a 1,000-yard season for Ballard as the Colts starting running back.
Colts running backs coach David Walker wants to see better vision from Ballard in year two.
Ballard is looking to reach the elusive 4.0 yards per carry number in 2013.
How many carries Ballard will actually get this season remains to be seen but there is no doubt that No. 33 will see his frequent share of touches in Pep Hamilton’s new offense.
WHAT ROLE(S) WILL DONALD BROWN AND DELONE CARTER HAVE IN THE COLTS OFFENSE?: Injuries plagued the Colts running back position last season and both Brown and Carter did not surpass the numbers they produced in 2011.
When healthy, both Brown and Carter bring an element to the Colts running back position that can benefit a team looking to improve on the ground.
Brown’s ability to get to the edge is unique compared to the other Colts running backs and let’s not forget the Tennessee overtime performance (six carries for 39 yards) he gave the offense before Ballard’s game-winning flop.
At 232 pounds, Carter has proven to be successful in short yardage situations and also added some key conversions late in the Colts overtime victory in Nashville last season.
This offseason, Walker mentioned the importance of relying on multiple options in the rushing game and Colts fans can look back to final months of the 2012 season to see the need for just that.
WILL KERWYNN WILLIAMS’ CONTRIBUTIONS EXTEND PAST SPECIAL TEAMS?: When the Colts chose the electric Williams in April’s NFL Draft, his ability to return kicks was lauded by Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson.
It’s no secret the Colts are looking for a permanent kick returner after 2012, where eight different players returned kicks last season.
Williams seems to be one of the front-runners as the team’s kick returner and that should be enough to handle in his rookie season, unless injuries occur in the backfield.
The Colts saw last season what big plays in the return game can do to change momentum.
Look for Williams to be that guy in 2013 after three seasons at Utah State where he finished with over 3,300 kick return yards.
In case you missed yesterday’s burning questions entry, click here for a recap on the quarterback position.