No one will mistake the Colts’ ground game for that of the division-rival Texans or NFC powerhouse 49ers, but coming off their best rushing performance of the season — and with starter Donald Brown nearing his return after missing the previous two games while recovering from knee surgery — the Colts, for the first time in a long time, appear to have a number of intriguing options in the backfield.
Prior to undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, Brown was coming off his best game of the season, having rushed 17 times for 84 yards in a win over the Packers. Sources indicated he was seeing the field better, knowing when to press the hole and gain the yards that were available, and when to bounce it outside and showcase his speed. Brown’s recovery is, by all accounts, ahead of schedule, and the Colts look forward to adding the speed dimension he offers back into their ground game.
In Brown’s absence, however, rookie Vick Ballard seized his opportunity, piling up 103 yards from scrimmage (on 21 touches) against the Browns in his second NFL start and showing an ability to make the first defender miss while also running with power — neither of which have been a strong suit of Brown’s. Interim head coach Bruce Arians is Ballard's biggest supporter, thus he should remain busy even when Brown returns.
Third-stringer Delone Carter also ran well also ran well against Cleveland, except for a failed 3rd-and-1 attempt late in the second half when he was stuffed in the backfield.
The way we hear it, the recent productivity of Indianapolis’ backs coinciding with Brown's swift recovery creates a good problem to have — and one that should only improve as an offensive line that marched out the same five players in consecutive weeks for the first time this season in Weeks 6-7 continues to jell.
This is music to the ears of head coach Chuck Pagano, whose No. 1 goal upon his hiring was running and stopping the run effectively, and QB Andrew Luck, who is averaging a staggering 41.7 pass attempts in six games.