Matt Kryger/The Star
Matt Kryger/The Star

The last preseason game for most NFL teams is a time to rest starters and watch those on the roster bubble battle it out for the final available roster spots. For Colts running back Vick Ballard, it was a time to show the Colts coaching staff he can handle the backup role behind Frank Gore and Daniel Herron. Ballard, the 2012 fifth-round pick from Mississippi State missed the 2013 and 2014 with an ACL and Achilles injuries that greatly impacted his once bright future.

Entering 2015 somewhat healthy, Ballard was on the right side of the roster bubble, and in Thursday’s final preseason game he showed flashes of the back that ran for over 800 yards as a rookie in 2012. Then it happened. Ballard re-injured his hamstring for the third time this month, showing the team just how fragile his body can be. Can Ballard be relied on by the Colts coaching staff?

“It’s sick. I’m sick about it,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “He was doing a nice job too, he ripped off a couple of good little runs. We all know the type of runner he is when he’s healthy. It’s just unfortunate. I hope it’s not a long-term deal with that so we’ll wait and see and evaluate him.”

Chuck Pagano knows the NFL is a business, and if you can’t stay on the field, you offer little value to the team writing your paychecks. Pagano was also quoted saying, “I just think it’s tough because he hadn’t played in two years and right when you get going he tweaks one during camp and stuff,” Pagano said. “So I think we’re all aware that when you’re not out there playing football for two straight years, you can’t simulate what he’s doing on game day, you can’t simulate the things that happen in practice until you’re actually back on the field playing. So it’s unfortunate, but we’ll deal with it, and see what (Friday) brings.”

With final cuts for all NFL teams happening no later than Saturday, Ballard will soon find out his fate. If cut, he will no doubt be sought after on the market, but his injury history will impact any potential deals. I believe the Colts should keep Ballard who has shown knowledge of the offense, but when healthy could easily compete with 32-year-old Frank Gore for touches within the Colts offense. Time will tell…

Dan Schalk covers the NFL for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @FFSportsTalk

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