Colts Place Donald Brown on Injured Reserve, Future with Team in Doubt

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistDecember 11, 2012

Donald Brown was injury-free coming out of college.

Unfortunately, he didn't stay that way in the NFL.

The Indianapolis Colts announced via press release shared with Bleacher Report that they placed the running back on injured reserve, ending his 2012 season.

They replaced him on the roster with Deji Karim, most recently of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fullback Robert Hughes was also placed on IR and replaced by Mewelde Moore.

Brown was the Colts' most effective back before another run of injuries cut his season short.

Injuries helped make Brown one of the most unpopular Colts in recent memory. Fans often failed to appreciate that he was a useful runner when he was on the field.

Knee and ankle injuries cost him his starting job, as he was supplanted by Vick Ballard. Ballard has run well in recent weeks, but his yards-per-carry average still lags behind what Brown was producing.

The move definitely weakens the Colts in the short term. Ballard will continue taking the bulk of the carries, but will also be spelled by Moore and Delone Carter, who have not played well at all this season.

There are long-term ramifications as well.

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Brown is coming to the final year of his contract with the Colts. He's slated to make $1.7 million, a price the Colts are unlikely to pay for a player who can't stay on the field.

Brown was only healthy for one of his four years with the Colts. He put up 645 yards on just 134 carries in 2011, good for 4.8 yards a carry.

Throughout his career, Brown has been limited by nagging injuries and perhaps the worst offensive line in football. Together, they conspired to ensure he never fulfilled his potential in Indianapolis.

His biggest moment as a pro came against Jacksonville late in 2010, when he posted 129 rushing yards and a touchdown to lift the Colts to a victory that ultimately drove them to the playoffs.

After his breakout showing, he was inexplicably benched by coaches, who favored longtime veteran Dominic Rhodes. Rhodes played poorly against the New York Jets, likely costing the Colts a first-round win.