INDIANAPOLIS –Vick Ballard rushed 19 times for 94 yards last Sunday against Tennessee, including 12 times for 77 yards in a second half where he finished as the team's lone healthy back.
Though suffering a stinger himself, Ballard carried three times for 14 yards in the ending drive in the 27-23 win. He was the lone wolf in the backfield after Robert Hughes (knee) and Delone Carter (ankle) exited with third-quarter injuries.
Hughes and Donald Brown (ankle) now are on injured reserve, and Carter may miss two to three weeks. Rejoining Ballard are Mewelde Moore and Deji Karim. Karim was waived after preseason, while Moore played in six of the club's first seven games.
"They're going to plenty of time," said Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians. "Mewelde knows the offense and has been an excellent player in December over his career. He can step right back in. Deji was in here during OTAs and camp. He has a good handle on what he's doing. It's just getting back into football speed."
Ballard has been the one constant in the backfield in an injury-battered season for Indianapolis. Starting nine of 13 games, he has 146 rushes for 562 yards and 15 receptions for 143 yards, scoring once each way.
Ballard rushed 20 times against Cleveland, the first 20-plus game by a Colts running back since week two of 2010, and his 84 yards were his second-highest seasonal total.
Arians says Ballard will keep the same workload, and it is a level that has pleased the rookie back.
"I was just happy to be on the team. Coming into the season, I really didn't know what my role would be," said Ballard. "For me to start the last few games, I've felt really good about it."
Indianapolis has a 3.9 rushing average, and Ballard has topped 4.0 yards per rush six times and has a long rush exceeding 10 yards in eight straight games.
Ballard has receptions in nine outings, and Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians lauds his ability.
"He's powerful. He's a poor man's Edge (Edgerrin James). He's bowlegged like Edge. He's about the same size and tough to bring down," said Arians. "I think Edge had great hands, but Vick's are really solid."
Twice this season the Colts have rushed more often than they passed, with those being against Cleveland (17-13) and at Jacksonville (27-10). Those were wins where the club did not need a late comeback.
The 27-23 win over Tennessee was the sixth game year where the Colts had less than 50 rushing yards at halftime, and it was the fourth time it stayed committed on the ground and earned a win. That has happened two straight weeks.
Arians has said all year the club must remain two-dimensional to succeed, and Ballard has been the key performer.
"He's quick. He's elusive, doesn't have the great, great speed but he can make the first guy miss and he's going to make a lot of yards because he makes people miss," said Arians.
Moore has been a solid nine-year player, one who Arians says performs well late in the year.
"You just rehearse a couple of lines in your mind and once you've got that, it's going out and getting in the flow," said Moore of his return. "I just want to come in and contribute. This is the type of football that means the most – December and January. It's a privilege and honor to get back."
PRO BOWL VOTING – With one week remaining for Pro Bowl voting on NFL.com, Andrew Luck is third among AFC quarterbacks with 318,128 votes, trailing Peyton Manning (823,372) and Tom Brady (746,710) and ahead of Ben Roethlisberger (302,583). Four quarterbacks are chosen for the Pro Bowl. Dwayne Allen is fourth among fullbacks with 82,113 votes, trailing Vonta Leach (165,723), James Casey (129,054) and Marcel Reece (94,461). Two fullbacks are chosen. Reggie Wayne is second among wide receivers with 438,429 votes, trailing A.J. Green (563,954) and ahead of Wes Welker (373,563) and Demaryius Thomas (350,744). Four receivers are chosen. Robert Mathis is fifth at outside linebacker with 83,447 votes, trailing Von Miller (316,531), Wesley Woodyard (184,675), Justin Houston (121,341) and Akeem Ayers (103,836). Four outside linebackers are chosen.