By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
A freak injury on a non-contact play during Thursday's practice will cost the Indianapolis Colts the services of starting running back Vick Ballard for the season.
The team announced Friday that Ballard tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee when he put his foot in the ground to make a cut, and the injury will require surgery. The second-year running back was placed on injured reserve, and seventh-round pick Kerwynn Williams was elevated from the practice squad.
"We feel awful for Vick," head coach Chuck Pagano said. "We all know Vick was headed toward having a fabulous year. We know and understand injuries are part of this game. We'll deal with it. Nobody handles adversity quite like this team and this locker room. It's next man up."
That man is veteran Ahmad Bradshaw, a free-agent addition who missed the entire preseason rehabbing a foot injury. He carried just seven times for 26 yards in last week's win against Oakland.
"We're going to get to see a lot more of Ahmad," Pagano said. "He's excited, obviously, and feels bad about what happened."
Fifth-year running back Donald Brown also will work into the mix. He didn't have a carry against the Raiders but served as a special teams captain and recorded one tackle on a kickoff return.
Brown said the Colts can't afford to allow the injury to change anything about their preparation for Sunday's game against Miami.
"Unfortunately it's the game of football, and it's not the first time it's happened to somebody on this team this season, and unfortunately it probably won't be the last either," he said. "It's a very tough injury, and you hate to see somebody who puts in the work like (Ballard) did, to see that happen to somebody like that. But next man up, and you have to keep going."
Three other starters are listed as questionable for the Dolphins game — inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (quad), tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) and outside linebacker Erik Walden (hamstring). Inside linebacker Kavell Conner — a likely replacement for Freeman, if needed — also is questionable with an ankle injury after missing last week's opener.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer is expected to return after sitting out against Oakland while recovering from a concussion. But he, Kelvin Sheppard and Mario Harvey could be the only active interior linebackers.
Sheppard likely will start if Freeman and Conner can't go, and rookie Bjoern Werner would be first in line to replace Walden.
But only Ballard and reserve wide receiver David Reed (quad) have been ruled out against the Dolphins. Each of the other injured players is expected to be a game-time decision.
"I think we've had our share (of adversity)," wide receiver Reggie Wayne said. "I think I've seen my share in my career with this organization, period. I think we got all the right components in place and all the right guys in all the right places to bounce back from this."