The Indianapolis Colts haven't been known for their running game in recent years, but free-agent signee Ahmad Bradshaw is looking to change that. So is head coach Chuck Pagano, an obvious fan of Bradshaw's:
"He’s strong as heck. He’s a downhill guy," Pagano said. "This guy will carve himself out a role and a niche on our football team, I’m sure."
Bradshaw was let go by the Giants after six seasons and he is currently six months removed from foot surgery that gave teams pause as to how risky it would be to sign the veteran running back even though he's coming off of his second career 1000-yard season and is only 27. The 2007 seventh-round pick out of Marshall has 4,232 yards rushing and 1,087 yards receiving in his career with 35 total touchdowns.
He also broke off an NFL season-high 88-yard run as a rookie in 2007 and Pagano was used to seeing those kinds of explosive plays from Bradshaw; He had a 77-yard run against the Ravens in 2008 when Pagano was the defensive coordinator. Now Bradshaw hopes to carve his own spot out with the Colts this season on a $2 million contract, while also assisting the younger backs on the roster like Vick Ballard:
"We just see a huge opportunity for me to come and help Vick and those guys out," Bradshaw said. "I feel this offense is young and they need a spark and I feel like I can be that spark. I like having the load on my back, but Vick, he’s proven himself so I don’t mind coming in and helping those guys as much as I can."
Ballard ran for 814 yards and 3.9 yards per carry last season, but with only two touchdowns. Bradshaw and fifth-year back Donald Brown will have to complement each other if they're going to improve the 22nd-ranked rushing offense from a year ago.
If Bradshaw can stay healthy and keep that same explosiveness, they might be able to do just that.