Chuck Pagano: Vick Ballard is Colts' lead running back


The Indianapolis Colts showed their faith in second-year pro Vick Ballard by waiting until the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft to address the running-back position.

While Ballard lacks the big-play ability of Donald Brown, he proved to be a more well-rounded and durable back down the stretch last season, averaging 92 yards from scrimmage over the final five games. Clearly, Ballard was the best runner on the team.

Coach Chuck Pagano now confirms that Ballard remains ahead of Brown as the "lead guy" entering the Colts' offseason program.

"Vick is a solid, solid guy; Donnie is a home run hitter," Pagano said Wednesday via "(Ballard) just keeps getting stronger. The more carries he has, the better he gets."

The Colts figure to utilize Brown as a change-of-pace back specializing in outside runs, but that doesn't mean he will take over on third downs. Ballard is a more reliable pass protector and receiver, which is important as new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton brings more West Coast principles to the Colts.

Former interim coach Bruce Arians likened Ballard to a poor man's Edgerrin James last December. Hyperbole or not, it sounds like Pagano is ready to give Ballard a chance to fill that role in the Colts' backfield.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.