Colts running backs have much to prove

INDIANAPOLIS -- The questions and naysayers are out there for Indianapolis Colts running backs Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson.

All three have been starters at different points in their career, and all three have question marks that will remain until they prove doubters wrong.

Ballard is coming off a torn ACL. Bradshaw is coming off neck surgery. And Richardson, well, he was just a disappointment last season.

The three of them are well aware that there are concerns about whether they can complement quarterback Andrew Luck's arm and the passing game.

"Everybody looks for us to fail,” Bradshaw said. "That wasn't Trent (last year). I just think we'll just complement each other so well and us coming together on the (offensive) line. There were a lot of struggles up there, too. We get those guys right and I can't wait to see what's going to happen.”

The Colts are a long way from naming one of them a starter. They all have to prove they've overcome their previous obstacles.

Ballard, who tore his ACL in practice during Week 2 of the season, is close to a 100 percent. He rushed for 814 yards as a rookie and is taking the questions about how effective he can be harder than Bradshaw and Richardson.

The Colts traded for Richardson after Ballard suffered his season-ending injury.

"I understand the situation, but I was the starter before I got hurt,” Ballard said. "I would have done the same thing if I was the GM. It's a business and at the end of the day, I understand what they did, but I want to be the H-back.”

Richardson is the wild card of the group. He went from starter to backup to disappointment after rushing for only 458 yards in 14 games with the Colts last season.

He said he has to laugh at the doubters. But the Colts are currently being the ones laughed at because they gave up a first-round pick to acquire Richardson from Cleveland.

"I'll say this, let's just let the guy get in pads,” Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "This horse has been dead and buried for months. Trent's in a great place right now. He's working his tail off. That position group is as strong as any position group on this football team.

"He's got his work cut out for him. He knows it. Like at any position group, we expect big things out of him and everyone else at every position if we're going to win a Super Bowl.”

Bradshaw shook off a blow to his neck to remain in the game and rush for 95 yards against San Francisco in Week 3 last season. Those 95 yards turned out to be the single-game high out of any Colts running back in 2013.

He chose to re-sign with the Colts because of the winning possibility and he knows they potentially can have a solid three-headed monster in the backfield.

That's a big if at the moment.

"We talk about what we can do and what we're going to be able to do,” Bradshaw said. "We don't talk about the negative stuff. We know we can be a great backfield this year and the sky is the limit for us.”