INDIANAPOLIS — The book on Vick Ballard leading up to the NFL Draft in April read as follows: Tough, fearless, good nose for the end zone, respectable speed.
Selected by the Colts in the fifth round with the 170th overall pick, the 5-foot-11, 219-pound running back hit town with a no-glitz, all-business reputation.
The kind that enabled him to find the end zone on 30 occasions in his two seasons as a Mississippi State Bulldog.
Tote rock, will score. If only it fit on a license plate.
While further down on the Colts’ rookie recognition list than, say, the Stanford pairing of quarterback Andrew Luck and tight end Coby Fleener, one of the squad’s primary running options is no less familiar with big-game environment having played in the brutally competitive Southeastern Conference.
Last year alone Ballard competed at Auburn, Georgia and Arkansas. Hostile environments all. As a Mississippi State junior in 2010 it was roadies against LSU, Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss.
In other words, Sunday’s announced crowd of 64,133 at Lucas Oil Stadium wasn’t nearly enough to supply him with a case of pregame jitters, NFL debut or not.
“When I’m on the field, I don’t notice the crowd,” said Ballard, 22, who finished with a team-high 28 yards on six carries in the 38-3 preseason dismantling of the St. Louis Rams. “I’m just focusing on what I’m doing out there.”
Aside from current first-team tailback Donald Brown, who starts his fourth season in Indianapolis, the Colts field more questions than suitable responses when it comes to establishing a ground attack potent enough to take pressure off their rookie quarterback.
Delone Carter. Mewelde Moore. Darren Evans. They all look to get carries during the remainder of the preseason and be part of the offensive equation, and Ballard is right there with them. No further ahead. No further behind.
“I think I played pretty decent. For me, my goal was not to make mental mistakes,” said Ballard, who secured MVP honors in last season’s Music City Bowl with 180 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns. “Yardage wasn’t really the thing, it’s just being able to make the right reads. I just come to work every day trying to get better.”
This and that
The 38 points scored by Indianapolis is the highest total in a preseason game since defeating the Denver Broncos, 38-34, in 1998 . . . Colts’ backup quarterback Drew Stanton finished 8 of 11 through the air for 83 yards, while third-teamer Chandler Harnish, an Indiana native having played at Norwell High School, was 3 for 3 for 52 yards and a score.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.