Coming into Week 2 against the Dolphins, the Colts’ running back situation is still somewhat of a question mark for the offense. Vick Ballard saw the majority of the carries last week with Ahmad Bradshaw still a little rusty from not playing this preseason due to his foot injury. This week we should expect to see more of the same, with Bradshaw slowly building up his carries until he is fully healthy. Ballard is more than capable of handling the bulk of the carries and taking some pressure off of Andrew Luck and the passing game. With the Dolphins aggressive pass rushers Cameron Wake and Dion Jordan, Ballard will also be counted on in screens and draws and chipping. While Bradshaw is the more experienced pass protector, Ballard is coming into his own in this important part of the game. Last week head coach Chuck Pagano described Ballard as “unbelievable” in pass protection, a great sign for just a second year player.
This could be a tough week for the running game however, with Miami giving up just 47 yards to Browns’ running back Trent Richardson. The Colts’ offensive line will have to do a better job this week than the Browns’ line, led by perennial Pro Bowler Joe Thomas, did last week. While there were flashes of improvement from the unit during last week’s game against the Raiders, this is a step up in competition if the stats from Week 1 are more than just an aberration. The front seven in Miami has plenty of talent in the aforementioned Wake and Jordan along with new addition Dannell Ellerbe, former Colt Phillip Wheeler, and run-stuffers Paul Soliai and Randy Starks.While Ballard and Bradshaw have the ability to break tackles and make people miss, the offensive line will need to find a way to open holes for anyone running the ball if the Colts expect to have a balanced offensive attack.
With Ballard’s ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, expect to see him get the most snaps this week with Bradshaw and even Donald Brown getting snaps here and there. Wake and Jordan’s unrelenting pass rushing call for quick passes from Andrew Luck and Ballard is the best option from the running back position in this facet of the game and the improvements Ballard has made in pass blocking give the coaching staff plenty of trust leaving him in all three downs. Overall, Ballard will see around 60-70 percent of the playing time behind Luck, with Bradshaw at 20-25 and Donald Brown possibly filling out the rest of the time, leading to 15-20 carries and 3-5 receptions for Ballard, 8-10 carries for Bradshaw and around 5 for Brown.