INDIANAPOLIS—NFL Draft picks that hear their name called at No. 170 don’t usually do what
The Colts fifth round draft pick didn’t let his draft selection dictate production numbers last season, as the Mississippi State product rushed for 811 yards in starting 12 games.
“I think (Ballard) showed what we thought we had,” Colts running backs coach David Walker said. “We thought he was a real good player, from a good conference. All the things that we saw from his college film that he demonstrated in the SEC he was just able to turn and demonstrate with us.”
“We were happy with his success but in all honestly, I don’t think it surprised anybody.”
Of the 10 running backs selected prior to Ballard last April, only two finished higher (Doug Martin and Trent Richardson) in the rushing yardage department.
Yet, even Ballard has pointed out that he is hoping to see his yards per attempt number rise above four yards in 2012.
His position coach looks at another area that has been in a focus this offseason.
“Just continuing to be consistent with his eyes in terms of how he reads schemes and how he reads things in protections and stuff,” Walker said.
“It’s not so much he needs to get bigger, faster, stronger. It’s how he trains his eyes, gets better as a pro. Like anything, to be able to sense things before they happen that’s the key at any position and with experience that’s going to come forward.”
With a rash of injuries at the running back position, particularly in the second half of the season, Ballard was leaned on heavily in 2012 and many times was the lone threat in the Colts rushing attack.
Indianapolis has added reinforcements in 2013, beginning with veterans on the offensive line, a fullback in
Walker would not go as far to say the running game will be more of a focus in 2013 but he’s not naive in knowing what a balanced attack can do for an offense.
“We’ll do whatever we need to do to score points and win the game. If it means we run the ball 40 times a game Week 2 or 3 and we’ve got to throw it 40 times a game Week 4 or 5, however it unfolds, we’re all okay with that,” Walker said.
“We understand if we can run the ball, it opens up everything on our offense. When you have to play one-dimensional, it’s more in the defense’s hands. So we got to find a way to run the ball and be committed to that at times. But obviously T.Y. (Hilton) and Reggie (Wayne) got to get their touches along with the tight ends.”
There’s no doubt Colts fans will see changes in the offensive attack this season.
When it comes to the running game, both the incumbent starter and the position coach agree in the need for more consistent results.
“At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily how many yards we rush for but it’s how many yards per carry we rush for, how efficient we are when we’re doing certain things,” Walker said.
“If we run it 30 times but only gain 30 yards, we really didn’t do much. If we run it 30 times with 120, 130, then we’ve probably won the game and allowed other parts of our offense to open up.”