A Bunch Of Backs Behind Luck
Notable players: Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, Donald Brown, Delone Carter, Stanley Havili, Kerwynn Williams
One-word description: Variety
The Indianapolis Colts certainly have one of the most diverse backfields in the NFL. New OC Pep Hamilton wants to run the ball frequently, and with his options, he can call any type of running play he wants.
First, there’s second-year man Vick Ballard, the workhorse. Ballard didn’t get many carries early in the year because of the Colts’ trust in veteran Donald Brown: Ballard only had 29 rushing attempts through five games. But once Brown went down with an injury, Ballard stepped in and proved he’s the kind of guy that gets better as the game goes on, a perfect fit for a team that will be trying to preserve leads late in games.
Then there’s Brown, a guy more suited for third-and-long situations. A smaller, quicker running back, Brown certainly isn’t a power guy. He’s best suited for screens, sweeps and other situations that give him the ball in open space. He also won’t get many carries this year, both because of the position’s depth and his injury history. Keeping his touch count low will be key in keeping him fresh and effective as possible when he does get a chance to shine.
If Brown is the lightning, Delone Carter is the thunder. At 5 ft. 9 in., 238 lbs., Carter is pure power. He doesn’t get a lot of carries, but he doesn’t need to. In 2012 he scored three touchdowns on just 32 rushing attempts. As long as Carter can keep banging out first downs and touchdowns on short-yardage situations, he’ll have a spot on the Colts roster.
That is unless Stanley Havili can prove he’s better in those situations that Carter. The only fullback on the roster, Havili is seven pounds heavier, but also stands three inches taller, meaning he can’t get that low leverage Carter can. Regardless, Havili is more than just a power runner, he’s a one-man do-it-all weapon. He can run between the tackles, catch balls out of the backfield and open up holes for other players to run through.
Ahmad Bradshaw will add another dimension as well. The newest Colt first and foremost needs to get healthy after undergoing foot surgery in February. If and when he does, he can be a great change-of-pace back to complement all the power rushers. His burst, catching ability and pass-blocking will all be good weapons to diversity the Colts backfield. His experience in the postseason will also provide leadership that is otherwise absent from the running back unit.
Finally, there’s rookie Kerwynn Williams. He’s like Brown, but quicker and with more potential. He likely won’t see many carries this year with the Colts loaded backfield. Instead, he’ll make a living where he performs best – the return game. Williams has the ability to return both kicks and punts and provide other starters rest on special teams. He may see some time in special offensive packages to get him the ball in open space, but running between the tackles won’t be his forte.
This group of diverse playmakers doesn’t have the star power other teams might own, but when you’ve got as many options as Hamilton does