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Running Back Burning Questions Heading Into Training Camp

Intro: After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Colts have the foundation set for a deep playoff run. What’s in store at the running back position group heading into the 2014 training camp?


INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts head to Anderson with some very intriguing storylines at the running back position.

With upgrades across the offensive line, and a healthy trio of proven backs, will the Colts rushing attack improve on its No. 26 ranking last season?

Here's a look at the running back burning questions heading into training camp.

Will Trent Richardson improve on his 2.9 yards per carry from last season?

This is probably the most talked about question regarding the Colts preseason storylines.

Richardson would be the first to tell you that he didn't live up to his own expectations last season.

He doesn't deserve all the blame though.

A combination of factors certainly led to Richardson's inconsistency after he was traded to the Colts during the middle of Week 3.

His 2.9 yards per carry will rise in 2014 due to several changes.

Richardson has wrapped up an entire offseason program and now will play in the same offense for the first time since his junior season at Alabama.

Second, the Colts have upgraded the interior of their offensive line and some continuity in the middle will go a long way for Richardson's ability to read the blocks of familiar faces.

The Colts have the proven weapons in the passing game, and a consistent, productive Richardson would go a very long way in allowing the offense to be among the league's best in 2014.

STAT TO NOTE: In his two NFL seasons, Richardson has caught 86 passes for 683 yards.


Does Ahmad Bradshaw return to the player we saw in San Francisco last year?**

Predicting how a player returns from a neck injury is impossible until the live contact starts in August.

How does Bradshaw react when the wear and tear of hit after hit piles up in 2014?

I'm sure if you polled Colts players, Bradshaw would rank at the top or very close to the top of the team's toughest players.

Anthony Castonzo has praised Bradshaw's running style before and believes guys on the Colts offense feed off that bruising attack.

One small positive from Bradshaw missing nearly all of 2014 is he was able to rest a nagging foot injury that has forced the eight-year veteran to miss practice time over the past few seasons.

A healthy Bradshaw gives the Colts a great change of pace back in the sense that he can wear down opposing defenses in four-minute situations (i.e. San Francisco game).

Backs in the mold of Bradshaw flourished in last year's playoffs and the Colts would love to have that type of weapon come January.

STAT TO NOTE: Excluding 2013, Bradshaw has played in at least 12 games and rushed for at least 659 yards in each of the last five seasons.


Where does Vick Ballard fit into the Colts running back rotation?**

Vick Ballard's 2013 stat lines reads as follows: 13 carries for 63 yards.

A solid season debut in 2013 was the only action Ballard saw in his second NFL year as he tore his ACL on a non-contract injury the following week.

We will never know how the Ballard injury impacted the rest of the Colts 2013 season and if the team would have traded for Trent Richardson.

Now, the Colts head into 2014 with three running backs who have played lead roles for at least a dozen games in the NFL.

Ballard allows the Colts a versatile back that can help the team out on special teams and still impact the team offensively.

It's inevitable that Ballard will play a pivotal role at some point in 2014 for the Colts offense. He was the perfect example of that in 2012 and his injury last year paved the way for Donald Brown leading the team in rushing.

STAT TO NOTE: Ballard has rushed for at least 69 yards in each of the last six games he's played in.

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