With Vick Ballard’s injury occurring so close to game day this past week, Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown didn’t have very much time to get prepared for the game against the Dolphins. Their experience in the league helped make sure that they would be ready to step up and fill the hole that Ballard left in the backfield, even marginally improving upon the performance from Week 1 against the Raiders. With Bradshaw rounding back into his previous form seen in New York and Donald Brown getting more carries, the running game may not be in the dire straits that many believed they were after the news of the injury surfaced. There is plenty of room to improve though, especially in pass protection.
Bradshaw’s stat line may not look very impressive, with 65 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, but he showed that he is ready to take over the work load for the Colts. The injury worry coming into the year was Bradshaw himself, but with the aforementioned injury to the starter Ballard and that subsequent work load he took on this week, Bradshaw made it evident that there should be little reason to worry for the coming weeks when it comes to his health. Bradshaw also had three catches for 19 yards, and while this may be another modest stat line on paper, it helped keep some pressure off of Andrew Luck with the Dolphins’ excellent pass rush. They could have used more quick passes out of the backfield to Bradshaw and even Brown, with the offensive line giving up two sacks during the crucial drive late in the game.
Donald Brown saw his first action of the season and saw 7 carries for 30 yards. He had trouble in his pass protection however, particularly during that final drive. This is not a good sign heading into the rest of the season, with Vick Ballard’s improvement in that facet of the game, the offensive line’s difficulty protecting Luck themselves and the additional season ending injury to starting left guard Donald Thomas. Brown needs to do something to improve this part of his game going forward he could see more time on the bench or even find his roster spot taken by someone that can assist the line in protecting the Colts’ biggest asset.
As a whole, the running backs had a decent game against Miami. The questions heading into the game around the devastating injury to Vick Ballard were answered, at least in part. Ahmad Bradshaw proved that he is over the foot problem he had coming into the season and is ready to take over the starting job full time. Donald Brown saw his first action this year and though he showed the ability to take the ball and run with it, his deficiencies blocking for Andrew Luck give some cause for concern going forward for the Colts. It’s time for Brown to put up or shut up and show that he is not the first round bust that many have pegged him to be.
Joshua Morgan is a Staff Writer for Naptown’s Finest.