The Indianapolis Colts went into the 2014 offseason believing that starting running back Trent Richardson would be able to be “the guy” in their offensive backfield. They also hoped in the back of their mind that both Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard could return to full strength and push Richardson.

They can forget about at least one of them. According to, the Colts will have to do without running back Vick Ballard this year, as the third-year back has sustained a torn Achilles and will miss the entire 2014 season.

It’s a brutal injury in all respects, but arguably made worse thanks to Ballard already missing 15 games due to injury a year ago. Add in his second major injury to the lower half of his body in just two years, and it’s possible the 24-year old running back has played his last meaningful down in the NFL.

Ballard was already a marginal athlete prior to these two significant injuries, so seeing his knees and feet sapped by extreme injuries won’t offer much encouragement toward a successful return.

While the injury is clearly bad news for Ballard’s present and future, it’s also not great news for the Colts. Richardson looked to be a bust acquisition a year ago, as he averaged just 3.0 yards per carry in 2013.

Richardson admittedly didn’t fully grasp Indy’s offense after coming over in a trade from the Cleveland Browns early in the year, but he looked remarkably slow and indecisive as a runner. He still provided value as a receiver and blocker on third downs, but the former top-five draft pick was acquired to be a true feature back – not a plodding mass that catches balls every now and then.

It’s still entirely possible Richardson is ready to dominate come week one, but not having the extra competition in Ballard won’t help push him any better, while it also hurts Indy’s overall depth at the position.

Ahmad Bradshaw was already firmly planted as Richardson’s top backup, but a neck injury and a long history of lower body injuries don’t really peg him as a reliable backup option. The team will have to hope Richardson either pays off right away or Bradshaw can withstand an increased role if need be.

If neither of those things can happen, Indianapolis could be forced to look deeper on their bench, where less than ideal candidates like Chris Rainey and Dan Herron await.

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