Colts have questions at RB without Ballard

ANDERSON, Ind. -- The Indianapolis Colts reported to training camp at Anderson University with talent and depth at running back but also question marks at that position.

Vick Ballard missed most of 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee. Ahmad Bradshaw missed most of last season with a neck injury. Trent Richardson never found a rhythm after being acquired from Cleveland in September.

Indianapolis' talent and depth took a significant hit late Friday afternoon when Ballard suffered tough luck in practice for the second straight year. He tore his left Achilles, likely ending his season.

There was a sense that Ballard's injury was severe when owner Jim Irsay talked to the media on the practice field shortly after the third-year running back was taken off on a golf cart.

“When you see someone like Vick Ballard go down who's worked so hard to get back, it's tough, but it happens," Irsay said. "... He's still young, and he's got a full career ahead of him.”

It was less than a month ago that Ballard got a hit during teammate Robert Mathis' charity softball game and took his speed to another level as he rounded first base toward second.

Now Ballard faces the tough reality that his NFL career could be in jeopardy because he's torn his ACL and Achilles within 10 months of each other. Both of his injuries happened in practice during non-contact drills. His two injuries easily make you forget that it was just two years ago that Ballard led the Colts in rushing with 814 yards as a rookie in 2012.

As was the case last season, the Colts now have depth concerns in the backfield after they hoped their running game would complement quarterback Andrew Luck's arm.

Bradshaw has dealt with neck problems each of the past two seasons, so there's legitimate questions about his durability. Richardson's struggles have been well documented, and it doesn't help that he was held out of practice for precautionary reasons Friday. If there's a player outside of the rookies who needs to be on the practice field it's Richardson.

The Colts have running backs Chris Rainey and Daniel "Boom" Herron on the roster, but both of those players lack experience. They've combined for 35 carries in their career.

Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson is always working the phones trying to improve the roster. He'll be working the phones even harder now to make up for the loss of Ballard.