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.
"Vick is a solid, solid guy; Donnie is a home run hitter," Pagano said Wednesday via ESPN.com. "(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.