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Injured players make Colts roster decisions difficult

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The Sports Xchange

INDIANAPOLIS — Some tough roster decisions will be made over the next day or so by Indianapolis Colts officials.

With the first league-mandated cuts slated to be completed by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, the Colts must trim their roster down to 70 players quickly.

Some NFL teams have already announced some roster moves. But Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano said Sunday afternoon that while the decisions will come, he’s not sure if anything will be announced sooner rather than later.

Injuries to players who have missed significant time over the past two seasons is going to play a big part in whatever roster decisions are made.

Running back Vick Ballard, who has sat out the last two years with knee and Achilles issues, has tweaked both of his hamstrings since the start of training camp. Ballard’s latest hamstring issue occurred last Thursday and sidelined him for Saturday night’s preseason game at St. Louis.

And then there’s defensive tackle Art Jones, who signed with the Colts prior to last season. But an ankle injury in 2014 forced him to the sidelines. Jones incurred another ankle/foot injury against the Rams, which puts his immediate future in question.

Have the Colts’ coaching staff seen enough of Ballard to warrant keeping him around during the regular season? Will Jones’ injury force Indianapolis into making other moves in order to fortify its defensive line depth?

“It’s tough,” Pagano said when asked about Ballard’s continued battle to come back from a series of injuries. “The small glimpse that we got (in the preseason game with the Chicago Bears). It’s day-to-day with this (hamstring) injury.

“Hopefully we can get him out there (against Cincinnati on Thursday night). We saw signs of the old Vick. He’s a complete football player when he’s healthy.”

Can the Colts afford to take a gamble on what Ballard showed during his rookie season and hope that he can return from his hamstring issues? Can he be as productive as he was in 2012 when Ballard rushed for over 800 yards?

“I wish that I had a crystal ball,” Pagano said. “I really don’t know (how to evaluate his progress).”

With Jones’ latest injury, rookie defensive tackle Henry Anderson got extensive playing time in the Rams game. Anderson played well when given the opportunity.

“He played good, he played hard and he played smart,” the Colts coach said, adding that Anderson, Zach Kerr, Jeris Pendleton and Montori Hughes are also all in the mix to replace Jones if necessary.

“Any of those guys have the flexibility to play there.”

–Wide receiver Andre Johnson scored his first touchdown since joining the Colts on a pass from quarterback Andrew Luck in the first half of the Rams game. Johnson says that he’s still getting his timing down with Luck during the preseason.

“I think day by day you just keep getting comfortable. You know you come in and do the OTAs and stuff and that way you’re comfortable for camp and you know you just keep getting more familiar with everything as time goes along,” Johnson said.

“I’m still in there every day, taking notes and doing things every day trying to make sure I get as much down as possible. That’s just the way I’m going to approach it.”


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