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Indianapolis Colts: Backup Running Back Spot Wide Open in Indy

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 19:  Steve McLendon #90 and Ryan Clark #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Vick Ballard #33 of the Indianapolis Colts during the game on August 19, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIAugust 21, 2012

Coming into this season, everyone had Donald Brown as the starter at running back and Delone Carter as his backup on the depth chart for the Indianapolis Colts. It even played out that way in the first preseason game against St. Louis back on August 19th.

The Colts also brought in veteran Mewelde Moore for short-yardage situations and goal-line stands.

What none of us saw coming was rookie Vick Ballard being such a big threat this soon. The fifth-round pick in April's draft has been a pleasant surprise and is in contention for Brown's backup spot in the offense.

Ballard is leading the Colts rushing attack right now with 62 yards on 16 carries in two games. He's nearly gaining four yards per carry, which is a fantastic weapon for the Colts to utilize.

Ballard can keep the defense guessing and really help QB Andrew Luck in the play action. If he can continue getting nearly four yards every time he touches the football, that will get the Colts first downs every time in short-yardage situations and make the defense creep up toward the line of scrimmage when he's in.

That sets up play action, which makes life so much easier for a rookie quarterback.

Ballard is big enough to break tackles but is fast for his frame. He's 5'10", 217 pounds, but he's as quick as anyone on the field and can break tackles with how strong he is.

Carter was brought in last year as the Colts' fourth-round pick in the draft, and they hoped he could be that short-yard guy and a bruiser on goal-line stands. But Carter has struggled to stay on the field, fumbling three times last year, and this year, he was banged up in the first game against the Rams with rib issues.

Carter didn't play against Pittsburgh, and that could have hurt him even more.

Moore would have been looked to more last Sunday, but he was banged up himself and didn't play. That allowed Ballard to show what he can do, and I expect him to move up the depth chart and challenge for not just the backup spot, but to be a starter one day.

Ballard is that good, and I'm extremely impressed and pleased with his production and effort this month.

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