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Chuck Pagano On Vick Ballard: "We Love That Kid"

Intro: Vick Ballard was back on the practice field on Sunday afternoon as the Colts held their first Training Camp practice of 2015. How does Ballard feel after another offseason of rehab?





ANDERSON – Excuse Chuck Pagano for becoming a fan.

It's a fandom that the Colts head coach hopes becomes a massive bandwagon.

The rooting is for running back Vick Ballard, a player snake bitten with bad luck in each of the past two seasons, trying to revert the good fortune he most obviously deserves.

"We love that kid," a beaming Pagano said on Sunday morning when asked about the Colts fourth-year running back.

"That's a foxhole buddy. You want to take him downtown with you because you know he is going to have your back."

Ballard took one step closer to being back in that foxhole on Sunday afternoon.

Participation in individual drills on Sunday marked just the third practice Ballard has participated in since suffering a non-contact ACL injury during Week Two of the 2013 season.

Such a promising NFL career came to a screeching halt on that Thursday afternoon at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

Coming off a 12-start rookie season as the Colts leading rusher, Ballard was the team's starter at running back to begin the 2013 campaign.

That ended when the former fifth-round pick tore his ACL on an every day practice cut prior to the Colts Week Two matchup.

A trying rehab process began for a player without a trace of prior injury history.

Ballard's return to the field the following year would last barely more than a practice.

Catching a pass out of the backfield on the Anderson University practice fields last July, Ballard fell to the ground as he turned up field.

The horror story had returned. A second freak injury had occurred.

Achilles rehab sent Ballard to the training room for a second straight offseason.

Reggie Wayne, whose locker was next to Ballard for the last three seasons, was a veteran presence for the man left asking 'Why?' for a second straight season.

Wayne started to get Ballard hooked on model cars, which eventually took the running back to an arts and craft store in Indianapolis.

While there, Ballard couldn't help but notice a bookstore next door.

Ballard left with Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad."

He would return to that bookstore several more times, dipping into novels on finance, religion and whatever "could contribute to me as a person in society", according to Ballard.

Andrew Luck added to the reading list with the World War II book "Unbroken", fitting for the struggles Ballard was facing.

The physical rehab aside, Ballard was starting to see a new him.

"When I got hurt the first time, I didn't really know myself as a person because I never missed any type of football (growing up)," Ballard says looking back on the constant rehab.

"I had been playing since I was six. Football was a big part of my life. Then when it got (taken) away, I didn't know myself. I struggled at first trying to find things to cope."

A fresh start, mentally and physically, in jersey No. 26, has a renewed Ballard the happiest of all Colts following the first practice day of Training Camp.

Individual drills are where Ballard will begin his on-the-field journey back.

The progress and potential from there could lead to Ballard creating a book that no one will want to put down.

"It's more frustrating for me mentally because I know I can do it, but, physically, I'm unable to," Ballard says.

"Just being in the huddle, breaking it down, being in the meeting room when I know I can participate, I'm definitely happy, but not content yet. I want to get back to my old self and then you'll start seeing a smile on my face.''

Highlights from Vick's 2015 photo shoot in the #ColtsPhotoGarage.

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