New Number, New Mindset For Vick Ballard

Intro: After two season-ending injuries the last two seasons, Vick Ballard’s outlook on 2015 has a different tune.

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INDIANAPOLIS – The number is different this time around and the talk is a bit more confident, too.

Vick Ballard's change to No. 26 (from No. 33) offers a "fresh start" for a player absolutely deserving of one after back-to-back season-ending injuries.

On Wednesday, Ballard's tune was more upbeat than the one from 2014 when he was rehabbing a torn ACL.

For a player that Ahmad Bradshaw said got "down on himself sometimes", Ballard's mindset between the ears might be just as critical as how that Achilles is healing.

"Curious and confident," Ballard said earlier this week on his 2015 outlook. "I never lost my confidence, but I'm curious to see how my body will react.

"Even in my rookie year, I was dealing with some real bad Achilles problems. I don't have them any more. My knee feels great. I've got the rest of the strength back in my calf muscle. I feel like this, once I get back to 100 percent, will be the first time I can play without pain since college."

In what the Colts are looking for in a runner, Ballard possess the core traits.

He was thrust into action barely a month into his rookie season and answered that call.

Ballard was the starting running back entering his second NFL season in 2013.

An everyday cut at practice in Week Two of that 2013 season ended Ballard's starting tenure due to an ACL tear.

Another non-contact injury followed in last year's training camp, marking the 2013 season opener against Oakland the last time Ballard has graced the playing field.

The past two seasons have placed Ballard almost strictly in the training room.

His presence inside the Colts locker room though has been constant, and his teammates have taken notice.

"I can tell you he comes to work every day with a smile on his face and a positive attitude," Andrew Luck said of Ballard.

"He doesn't detract from anything. He's a team guy. He's a fun guy to talk to and I enjoy having a locker next to him. Really excited for him and really looking forward to taking the field with him again."

With the NFL Draft less than a week away, Ballard has heard all the running back talk early in the draft for the Colts.

He reminded reporters on Wednesday, that his 24-year-old-self is the youngest ball carrier on the roster.

Ballard thinks he could be that "young running back" to complement Frank Gore in 2015.

Trying to gauge Ballard's 2015 is murky, at best, though.

Physically, Ballard thinks he could participate fully right now, but he will wait until Training Camp to ramp it up.

Mentally, he chooses to look at the glass half full after another year of rehab.

"On the bright side I could look at it and say, 'Running backs take a beating,' and I'm pretty fresh," Ballard said.

"Nothing hurts. I just got to get my strength back."

Behind the scenes photos from our first player photo shoot of the 2015 season with Vick Ballard.




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