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Dan Herron proving he's the back Indy needed

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Chances rise and fall fast in the NFL. Those prepared can soar. Those unable, crash and burn.

The Indianapolis Colts' backfield is the most recent example of the dichotomy.

It wasn't supposed to be Daniel "Boom" Herron leading the Colts' rushing attack and becoming a reliable check down for Andrew Luck. But an injury to Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson disintegrating like a tree infested with termites thrust Herron into the spotlight.

"When the opportunity comes," Herron said, per The Indy Star, "you just have to really seize it and really take advantage of it."

Since Herron became a bigger part of the offense -- getting his first start in Week 12 -- the Colts have gone 7-1. In two playoff games, he's been the unquestioned workhorse. While his 3.4 yards per carry average doesn't wow, Herron combines the power and big-play burst to keep defenses honest.

Perhaps more importantly, in recent weeks Herron has made huge strides in the passing game. His improvement in blitz pickups have been big -- a liability earlier in the season -- and he's proved enormous in the Colts' air attack. With teams stacking T.Y. Hilton over the top, Herron has led Indy in receptions the last two weeks.

"My goal was always to come in here and get better each and every day," Herron said. "Try to show the coaches something different each and every day, if it's pass-blocking, running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, special teams, whatever it may be to get on this team. I'm still working, still not satisfied."

Herron's fumbling has been an issue, but at this stage of the season, the Colts will ride Boom into Foxborough on Sunday to face the New England Patriots.

From no-string in Week 1 to first-string in the AFC Championship Game. This is the NFL.

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