What to Expect in Week 1: The Running Backs


Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis, IN – The Indianapolis Colts head into the 2013 season with two starting caliber running backs which is a situation that they haven’t had since the Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes combo. Both Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw are capable of being very good starting NFL running backs. Most analysts are predicting that Vick Ballard will start Week 1 with Bradshaw taking over for the remainder of the season in Week 2. If that does wind up being the case, then you can expect to see both backs receive a similar amount of carries against the Raiders.

Vick Ballard appears to be the favorite at this point to start at running back vs. the Raiders on Sunday, due to Bradshaw just coming back from a foot injury. Ballard showed great talent last season, rushing for a total of 814 yards on 211 carries (3.9 YPC), and really helped lead the Colts offense and take pressure off of Andrew Luck. You can expect to see him receive a good amount of carries throughout the season even if he does wind up taking the backseat to Bradshaw as expected.

Ballard is a very tough runner, and at 224 pounds could see a good amount of touches in goal-line situations. Assuming he starts you can expect to see good numbers versus a poor Raiders run defense. The Colts’ offensive line is much improved from last season, and if Ballard gets good blocking he can make defenders miss on his own as well.

Bradshaw is a very interesting player to keep an eye on for the Colts. He’s coming off of a nagging foot injury from last season with the New York Giants, and has had two full, complete practices since being cleared to play in Week 1. Despite his injury issues last year, he carried the football 221 times for 1,015 yards (4.6 YPG), which is exactly what the Colts came into the off-season looking for. Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has been quoted as saying that the Colts do not know exactly how much they will use Bradshaw in their season opener. Multiple reports have stated that he’ll share equal time with Ballard, but others don’t believe that they will work him hard at all.

There is so much in question that we can’t really predict what to expect from Bradshaw against Oakland. Fans can certainly be excited to see Bradshaw on the field, because as of right now that will happen. We likely won’t hear too much more about how much Bradshaw will be available until either Saturday or Sunday, but you can expect to get your first look at him in game action for the Colts.

Overall the running game should perform very well against a porous Raiders rushing defense. They have two very good options in Ballard and Bradshaw, and you could even see a Donald Brown appearance depending on how the game goes. Expect both players to perform well if they share time.

Evan Massey is an editor at Naptown’s Finest. Give Evan and Naptown’s Finest a follow on Twitter.