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RB Bradshaw To Get Season-Ending Neck Surgery

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Ahmad Bradshaw had a monster game against the San Francisco 49ers and looked to be the team's top option out of the backfield, but a lingering neck injury will require surgery and sideline him for the remainder of the 2013 season. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.
Ahmad Bradshaw had a monster game against the San Francisco 49ers and looked to be the team's top option out of the backfield, but a lingering neck injury will require surgery and sideline him for the remainder of the 2013 season. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

The Indianapolis Colts have been riding high in recent weeks thanks to three straight wins, including a comeback victory over the heavily-favored Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday, but the team received bad news on Tuesday after learning that RB Ahmad Bradshaw will need season-ending surgery on his neck.

Bradshaw originally suffered the injury during the first quarter of a game against the San Francisco 49ers three weeks ago, but he played exceptionally well through the pain, as he carried the ball 19 times for 95 yards and a touchdown during the victory at Candlestick. After experiencing discomfort the following day, Bradshaw sat out of practice the entire week and ended up missing games against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Seahawks. Indianapolis hoped that rest would allow the neck to heal on its own and that the veteran back would be able to return after missing a couple of games, but the injury hasn't shown any signs of improvement and surgery became the only option.

The Colts decision to trade for Trent Richardson now has even greater significance, as both Bradshaw and Vick Ballard will now be on injured reserve with season-ending ailments. Richardson finally started to show some life in the second half against Seattle this past weekend, but he has averaged less than 3.1 yards per carry in all three of his games with the team and will need to improve rapidly as the season progresses to keep the Colts' rushing attack viable. He'll be expected to perform at a high level and show he was well worth the team's investment trading a first round pick to the Cleveland Browns to obtain his services.

Backup Donald Brown should also see increased touches in Bradshaw's absence, and based on how he has performed in recent weeks, seeing him on the field more frequently might not be a bad thing for Indy's offense. The ex-Connecticut star hasn't seen a lot of action this season, but he's become a bigger part of the offense the past few weeks without Bradshaw available, and he's averaging over eight yards per carry this season. While Richardson has been labeled as a downhill, powerful runner, Brown gives the team a quicker back who has greater potential to break runs for big plays and may be a more reliable option as a receiver in Pep Hamilton's offense.

If Richardson or Brown goes down, the Colts could be in serious trouble. Indianapolis hasn't released a corresponding roster move to replace Bradshaw at this point, but it would be surprising if the team didn't bring on a third back to add an insurance policy in the backfield.