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Colts have to find a running back to complement Andrew Luck

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts' best running back was at the facility cleaning out his locker with the rest of his teammates Monday.

Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was back and talking about how tough it was to watch the final nine games of the season in street clothes. Bradshaw’s season ended when his fibula was fractured in the Week 11 game against New England.

"It’s the nature of the game, that’s how I look at it," he said. "This was like an injury I was always scared of and thinking about during the season, just something to stay away from as successful as the games were coming. That was just one thing I wanted to stay away from, but like I said, everything happens for a reason. I think it won’t do anything but make me stronger."

Bradshaw finished the season with 90 rushes for 425 yards and three touchdowns, and 38 receptions for 300 yards and six touchdowns.

The Colts’ running game changed after Bradshaw was injured. Bradshaw and Trent Richardson split time in the backfield prior to the injury, and the Colts ranked as high as 12th in the NFL in rushing. They finished the season ranked 22nd.

Richardson’s production fell off so badly that he ended the season on the inactive list, and Daniel "Boom" Herron is more of a backup than a starter in the NFL.

The lack of a running game put a heavy emphasis on quarterback Andrew Luck to carry the team with his arm. He can take the Colts only so far without a running game that keeps defenses honest.

The Colts have experienced what it’s like to face a team that has a running game to complement its elite quarterback. The Patriots have assisted quarterback Tom Brady by rushing for 234, 246, and 177 yards in their past three games against the Colts.

The Patriots have a running game. Seattle definitely has it with Marshawn Lynch. Dallas has DeMarco Murray. And Green Bay has Eddie Lacy.

The Colts are still searching for that.

"That’s what we’ve got to be able to do," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "We talk all the time, you’ve got to be able to do both. You’ve got to run it, and you’ve got to stop the run. Again, we didn’t do a good job of that yesterday. You saw what it opened up for Brady and his playmakers on the outside. That’s what the offseason is for. We’ll turn all stones. We’ll look at our schemes in all three phases and make the appropriate adjustments. We’re going to go through another draft, free agency, all that stuff. Look at ourselves extensively over the next two weeks from a personnel standpoint and evaluate everything top to bottom. Then it’s start marking the necessary adjustments that we have to make in order to get to the mountain top."

Bradshaw is wearing a walking boot after being in a cast. He hopes to be able to start working out in the near future. He has his sights on re-signing with the Colts.

The only issue with Bradshaw is that you can’t rely on him because of his health. His 2013 season ended in Week 3 because of a neck injury.

Vick Ballard will be back, but just like Bradshaw, he has health concerns. Ballard tore his ACL in Week 2 in 2013 and he missed the 2014 season after tearing his Achilles in training camp last summer.