Vick Ballard's Night Starts With Promise, Ends With Heartache

Intro: For the first time since the 2013 season opener, Vick Ballard was the Colts starting running back on Thursday night. Unfortunately, Thursday would end with Ballard dealing with yet another injury, just days before final roster cuts.

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts final preseason game of 2015 didn't come without a couple of injuries that could definitely impact pending roster cuts.

A 9-6 Colts loss to close out the four-game preseason slate wasn't the story coming out of Thursday night.

Injuries to Boom Herron (shoulder) and Vick Ballard (hamstring) will make for some interesting decisions regarding the running back position, behind Frank Gore, over the next two days.

Ballard's re-injury of a hamstring that kept him out of last week's game in St. Louis, came on a key night for evaluation.

After playing just eight snaps the entire preseason, Ballard started on Thursday night, despite missing practice this week.

The start for Ballard marked the first time since Week One of the 2013 regular season that he had opened up with the first unit.

Ballard began the preseason finale with seven touches on the first eight offensive plays. His night was moving along quite nicely, until his hamstring acted up following an eight-yard run midway through the second quarter.

A visibly frustrated Ballard headed straight for the bench, where trainers and Colts veterans surrounded the snake-bitten running back.

Ballard's night was over after nine carries for 29 yards and three catches for 12 yards.

The dejection in watching Ballard sit on the sideline, keeping his full pads on, flanked by Gore, was evident.

"If you talk about our team, our locker room and the guy that everybody respects, Vick Ballard is a guy that everybody absolutely respects," Matt Hasselbeck said after the game.

"You won't find one guy that really doesn't love the guy, respect the guy and respect what he's gone through."

For Ballard, he will have to wait to learn his roster fate with cuts due by Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST.

An early 12-yard run by Ballard on Thursday night brought a fist pump out of Pagano.

By the end of the night, the Colts head coach could only shake his head in disbelief at the unfortunate breaks Ballard has received since that magical rookie campaign.

"It's sick. I'm sick about it," Pagano said.

"He was doing a nice job, too. We know what type of back he is. We know he can gain yards and he's a really good go-to third-down back. He's a great pass protector. We will just have to see how it goes."

The shoulder injury to Herron occurred midway through the second quarter, following a kick return.

Herron briefly came over to the sideline, before heading to the locker room. Pagano said Herron would be evaluated on Friday.

Pagano did say rookie running back Josh Robinson (concussion) should return to practice next week.

Recent injuries to the backfield could force some shuffling in final roster moves at the running back position.

"It doesn't make it easy," Pagano said of how the injuries will impact a running back group that is likely to see three, or possibly four guys make the final roster.

"It was going to be complicated with everybody healthy and now it's going to complicate it even more."

The next 36 hours for Pagano is something the head coach never looks forward to.

Yes, the regular season is approaching. But before then, Pagano must tell 22 players, the Colts are parting ways with them.

"It's the worst part of this job, to be honest with you," the head coach said on Thursday night.

"Even if it's a short period of time, April 21st when you start your offseason program, until now, they sacrificed a lot and worked extremely hard. You build relationships so it's very, very difficult."

Photos from the final preseason game against Cincinnati

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