Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Colts Notebook: Ballard, Nicks, & Whalen Working Through Different Challenges

Ballard Feels Ready But Will Play It Safe

Vick Ballard looked very good in his one game last season, with 63 yards on 13 carries (4.8 ypc), but just four days later, he found himself being helped off the practice field with a torn ACL.

Eight and a half months later, Ballard is doing well, but he’s still limited to individual work in practice.  “I can’t do anything with the team actually,” Ballard said, “but with the rehab guys I’m doing bag work, cone work, moving around and catching the ball. I just feel like a football player again.”

Overall, like most players recovering from injury this time of year, Ballard is feeling positive.  “I feel pretty good,” he said of his rehab status. “Right now I’m just trying to keep – I’ve got tendonitis, keep the tendonitis down, and get the strength back up.”

What? Tendonitis?!  Apparently, this is a possible complication following ACL surgery.  According to a quick google search, patellar tendonitis happens in about 20% of cases during the first year after surgery but usually goes away by year two (Thanks UCSF Sports Medicine).

Like most players, Ballard wants to be ready for Training Camp.  “Yeah. Like I said, I probably could participate now but there’s really no reason to rush,” Ballard said. “Just want to make sure I’m feeling good for training camp.”  He sound realistic, but no football player wants to be on the sidelines when those late summer practices commence, and people start making a case for their spot in the rotation.  Best of luck to Vick Ballard.

 

Hakeem Nicks Taking Advantage of OTAs

Nicks was one of the Colts’ most celebrated free agent signings back in March, and he’s been working to learn the Indianapolis offense.  But, while playbook study and position drills are essential, nothing compares to getting out there and running through plays with the offense.

“I think just getting the timing down, getting the timing down with Andrew (Luck), getting the concepts down with the offense,” Nicks said of the importance of OTA’s for him. “Just getting the timing down and being on the same communication level that I need to be on so when I get to training camp, I can approach this season running.”

Of course, for a receiver, there are really about 9-12 actual routes they have to remember (flat, drag, slant, curl, comeback, dig, out, post, corner, fade/go, and then the Colts like to run screens behind the line of scrimmage as well as a few double moves).

“Well you know, offenses are a lot similar, but it’s just different terminology,” Nicks said. “You get the terminology down, all the routes from a wide receiver standpoint will all be the same. Just once you get the concepts and terminology down, you’ll be good.”

The situations, relationship to other routes/receivers on the field, hot routes, and of course, terminology and play calls are the variable in changing teams, and a veteran like Nicks knows where he needs the most work.

 

What about Griff

With the arrival of Hakeem Nicks and rookie Donte Moncrief, it’s possible Andrew Luck’s former college roommate Griff Whalen (as well as LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rodgers) could face an uphill battle for a spot in the rotation or even the roster.

The Colts, barring something strange and unforeseen, likely will have room for T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Nicks, Moncrief, and one more receiver – no matter how much they like the other young guys.

With those tough decisions looming this fall, the competition through the summer will be as intense as the July-August heat.  “Definitely competitive,” Nicks said of the younger receivers. “Definitely some competition, but working together at the same time and I think that’s what’s key. You work together and it makes everybody better. I think that works better for the team.”

Meanwhile, Colts players had some good things to say when the media members asked them specifically about Whalen.  “Oh man, Griff is explosive,” said cornerback Greg Toler. “He’s fast, shifty. I told him today he got me on a nice route; he sold me with the head fake. I said, ‘You must have been watching Reggie Wayne’ because Reggie gives you a lot of stems. Griff’s a great player.”

“He’s always been the underdog and probably always will be,” Andrew Luck said of Whalen, “but his attitude more than makes up for that.”

Meanwhile, for Whalen (not unlike everyone else who played last season), it’s nice to be going into another year in the same offense.  “Yeah it’s huge, especially right now,” he said yesterday. “We’re making a ton of improvements because we don’t have that whole mental hurdle to get over of trying to learn something new. We already know it and we can kind of just go out there and do it, work on the details and get better at those.”

 

Leftovers

Whalen on how often Andrew Luck is confused by the defense: “I couldn’t tell you. Probably pretty low. I mean he gets tricked every once in a while certainly just like everybody does, but I think he usually has a pretty good idea and he usually gets us in the right look.”

Luck on Khaled Holmes: “Khaled’s doing a great job. Communication is key, talking and pointing out. Every center that’s been in there has done a great job. It’s been fun to start this process with them and get them going. We know there’s a lot more work to do there. We’ve got a long way to go from my end, from their end, from everybody’s end, but definitely on the right path.”

Anthony Castonzo on Holmes: “He’s doing well. He’s doing a really good job of making all the calls. I don’t see him much in the one-on-one situations because I’m watching myself on film, to be perfectly honest with you. But as a tackle with the relationship that we have to have, he’s doing a real good job keeping us on the same page.”

As always, all quotes are courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.

Marcus Dugan

About Marcus Dugan

Marcus is a husband, dad, twitter geek, and all around average guy who covers news, game recaps, and additional material for The Colts Authority, while working even harder as an Indy area real estate broker. He's been known to overuse parentheses while editorializing (but who doesn't?)

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