Anyone that has watched the Indianapolis Colts with any regularity in recent years has known that the team has been in need of one thing no matter who was lining up at quarterback--a running game.
Joseph Addai appeared promising at first, but in the end wasn't able to get the job done. Dominic Rhoades wasn't bad, but he wasn't exactly good either. Donald Brown has been the type of football player that you'd expect to get from a school known for basketball.
Enter Vick Ballard. Up until Sunday's game he had appeared to be someone the team could afford to cut if it needed to. Even though he had a promising college career running for 5.7 yards a carry (2158 yards on 379 carries) and 30 touchdowns over two seasons with Mississippi State he had yet to show the Colts anything special.
So why was he on the roster anyway? Well, sometimes players just need a little time and a good chance to prove their worth; plus as a fifth rounder he wasn't costing the team much. With 29 carries over five games he had yet to have that chance too.
Plus he had done well in college, but does that mean he's going to be able to make it in the NFL?
Yes and no.
College success does not guarantee success at the pro level, but what else is there for us to look at? What we should look at is not only the stat monsters, but the guys that run well against the tough teams.
Who has tougher teams than the SEC? With a schedule that had the bulk of it taken up by some of the toughest defenses in the nation (i.e. Alabama, LSU, etc.) he average just over 91 yards in '11; good enough for No. 37 in the nation. That was a marked improvement over 2010 when he was No. 48 in the nation with closer to 80 yards a game.
While his body of work was good for a college player it wasn't exemplary. I'm betting that it was good enough when you take into consideration who he played for the fifth round pick the Colts used thinking that he may be a little more pro ready than other backs thanks to the high level of competition in the SEC.
Up until Sunday he appeared to either need some more time to adjust or to be another fifth rounder that didn't pan out. After Sunday he looks like a capable back that could actually provide the Colts with some much needed stability in the running game.
Or it could be he did decent against a poor Browns team and is going to get his jock handed to him against Tennessee.
I guess we'll get a better idea come Sunday, but for now it sure doesn't hurt to hope.