INDIANAPOLIS -- The news of the Indianapolis Colts releasing receiver LaVon Brazill on Friday shouldn’t be surprising.

Brazill
Brazill
That was expected.

The only way Brazill had a chance of sticking with the Colts at the conclusion of his suspension, which will be at least a year, was if team officials were compassionate -- the same way they are with owner Jim Irsay -- and realized the receiver has a problem with substance abuse.

That evidently is not the case.

It’s easy to question the whole double-standard thing when talking about Brazill and Irsay because both parties have significant issues they need to address.

The difference between the two, though, is that Irsay is a businessman who helps the franchise. Brazill is a replaceable receiver. The Colts proved that when they signed a receiver -- Aaron Burks -- to take his spot on the roster Friday.

Don’t worry -- Irsay will get his punishment, too, once commissioner Roger Goodell figures out the best discipline for the owner.

As far as Brazill goes, he put himself in the position of not only losing out on the $570,000 he was scheduled to make during the 2014 season, but also being without a team to play on.

He knew that he could be randomly tested up to 10 times a month because he was in Stage 2 of the program following his first suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

He still failed to avoid the temptation.

Now Brazill’s money and roster spot, which wasn’t guaranteed anyway, are gone.

I talked to Da’Rick Rogers on the final day of the Colts’ mandatory minicamp last month and he said he was looking forward to the competition for one of the final receiver spots on the roster.

“I embrace the challenge,” Rogers told me.

You know what?

Rogers and Griff Whalen no longer have to worry about Brazill pushing them in the competition.

Colts release WR LaVon Brazill

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
3:31
PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Colts have released receiver LaVon Brazill.

The announcement is not surprising after the NFL suspended Brazill for at least a year on July 3 for violating the league's substance-abuse policy for the second time. Brazill was banned for the first four games of the 2013 season for violating the policy.

Brazill was expected to compete for one of the final spots on the Colts' roster this season

Brazill was originally selected by the Colts in the sixth round (206th overall) of the 2012 NFL draft. In 25 career regular-season games with the team, he recorded 23 receptions for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Brazill also registered seven receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns in three postseason games (two starts).


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INDIANAPOLIS -- It's no secret the pressure players such as quarterback Andrew Luck and linebacker Robert Mathis are under to be at their best every week for the Indianapolis Colts. But you don't have to wonder if those players will show up to play on a week-to-week basis.

The same can't be said about some other players on the roster.

With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, we're going to take a look at a number of players who are under pressure to step up this season.

Richardson
Time to step up: Running back Trent Richardson

Why he needs to step up: The Colts didn't fork over a first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Richardson to struggle and eventually lose his starting position to Donald Brown. Richardson obviously was behind the rest of his teammates after being acquired just days before the Colts' Week 3 game against San Francisco, but he didn't show much progress as the season went on. He actually regressed as the season went on. Richardson has to step up to not only avoid being labeled a bust after being taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft, but also to help the Colts from looking like they got played by the Browns in the trade. Averaging 2.9 yards a carry again won't get the job done for Richardson.

What he has to do: Richardson -- for his and the Colts' sake -- spent the offseason studying the playbook so that he's able to run with his natural instincts instead of overthinking, which he did too often last season. Richardson also has to do a better job of picking the correct holes to run through. It wasn't entirely Richardson's fault last season. The offensive line has to do a better job of blocking. There were way too many occasions where Richardson would get hit two or three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Richardson also has to beat out Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard for the starting running back position.

Outlook: Richardson wore a red non-contact jersey during part of the offseason workouts because he had surgery on his shoulder shortly after the season ended. He'll likely get the first shot at starting over Bradshaw and Ballard because the latter two are coming off injuries that cost them almost all of the 2013 season. But Richardson will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going if Bradshaw and Ballard are producing when given the opportunity.

Quotable: "(Richardson's) one of those guys that has benefitted tremendously from the extra classroom time. It was ambitious to think that he could come in, what was it, Week 3 or 4 last year, and pick it up to hit the ground running. It was one of those situations where the defense knew when we put him in the game that more than likely we were running the football and they were packing the box. He was faced with some tremendously tough looks but he'll be better in 2014." -- Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton
Marlin JacksonAlbert Dickson/Sporting News/Getty Images
Score: Colts 38, Patriots 34

Date: Jan. 21, 2007. Site: RCA Dome

In a closer vote than it should have been, Indianapolis Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game -- a play that helped seal an 18-point comeback and a spot in the Super Bowl -- was voted as the team's most memorable play.

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Which is the most memorable play in Colts' history?

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    40%
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    22%
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    38%

Discuss (Total votes: 30,682)

I went into the voting earlier this week thinking Jackson's interception would be the clear winner.

I was wrong. So were a number of other people, too.

That play received 40 percent of the more than 30,000 votes, barely edging out quarterback Peyton Manning's then-record breaking 49th touchdown pass against the San Diego Chargers in 2004. Manning's touchdown pass received 38 percent of the votes.

The Colts' 28-point comeback against Kansas City in the playoffs last season was a distant third in the voting (22 percent).

Manning's record-setting touchdown passing obviously is huge because it's a milestone during what will end up being a Hall-of-Fame career. But Jackson's interception was substantial for the franchise.

The Colts had been eliminated by the Patriots the previous two times they faced each other in the playoffs. Indianapolis finally got New England, the AFC power squad, off its back in a fashion that didn't seem possible when the Colts walked into the locker room down 15 points at halftime.

So after four consecutive playoff appearances that ended short of a Super Bowl appearance, Manning and the Colts celebrated clinching a Super Bowl berth in front of their fans.

"[The Patriots] were a nemesis of ours for years," Jackson said. "We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy."

The Colts went on to beat the Chicago Bears 29-17 in the Super Bowl.

An interception that helped the franchise eventually win a Super Bowl or a touchdown pass that set a single-season record?

Seems like an easy choice to make even if the voting didn't appear that way.

Time to step up: Erik Walden

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
2:30
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- It’s no secret the pressure players such as quarterback Andrew Luck and linebacker Robert Mathis are under to be at their best every week for the Indianapolis Colts. But you don’t have to wonder if those players will show up to play on a week-to-week basis.

The same can’t be said about some other players on the roster.

With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, we’re going to take a look at a number of players who are under pressure to step up this season.

Time to step up: Erik Walden

Walden
Walden
Why he has to step up: Like safety LaRon Landry, who was the first player in the series on Wednesday, Walden was one of the marquee free agents general manager Ryan Grigson signed (four years, $16 million) in 2013. And like Landry, Walden didn’t do a whole lot to stand out. He had 45 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Walden’s most memorable play last season was one that nobody should be proud of. He was suspended a game after headed-butting Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker in a game in November. The head butt was dangerous because Walden had a helmet on and Walker did not. The pressure is on Walden even more early in the season because the Colts won’t have Mathis (suspension) during the first four games, with Week 1 and 2 matchups against Denver and Philadelphia, respectively.

What he has to do: Walden must complement Mathis’ pass-rushing ability on the other side. Mathis was a one-man rush last season for the Colts. Walden has yet to register more than three sacks in his career. The Colts can’t expect to improve from being the 20th-ranked defense if Walden is supplying some kind of outside pass rush.

Outlook: Some still believe the Colts overpaid for whom they believe is a marginal linebacker in 2013. Walden knows the criticism is out there. He has had a year in coach Chuck Pagano’s system so he can’t be any worse than last season. That’s the hope at least.

Quotable: “I just feel like guys have got to embrace their opportunities. Of course, we’ve got the all-time leading sack guy not being there for four weeks, so other guys have just got to rise to the occasion and just make plays. Have fun. It’s not pressure, this is what you do, this is what you get paid to do. This is what they brought us in for is to make plays. Guys have just got to make plays.” -- Walden

Colts' biggest key to success

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
12:00
PM ET
Quarterback Andrew Luck isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’ll remain in an Indianapolis Colts uniform for the foreseeable future.

Luck
 Owner Jim Irsay will make sure of that.

The Colts look at Luck in the same way they looked at Peyton Manning (minus having to part ways with him at some point). They want to keep Luck under center and have him lead the Colts to the Super Bowl multiple times.

If the first two years are in any indication, the Colts are in a good position to accomplish those things with Luck. The only real question -- one that has been burning since Luck’s rookie year -- is whether he will be as durable as Manning because of poor offensive line play?

Luck has been sacked so many times (73) during the first two years of his career that you’re left wondering at times how he has yet to miss any snaps in a game because of an injury. He has shaken off countless hits to lead the Colts to 22 regular-season victories and three playoff games in just two seasons.

 Still, the Colts are flirting with danger when it comes to their franchise player because of poor pass protection.

The Colts are set at tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus on the left and right side, respectively.

The interior part of the line has remained poor, however.

Luck has a new center in Khaled Holmes, who played only 12 snaps last season. Hugh Thornton is the frontrunner to retain one of the guard spots, while the other guard position is uncertain. Rookie Jack Mewhort could end up starting at guard. If so, Luck and the interior part of the offensive line will grow together. Luck, in just his third season, is the elder statesmen of the group. Holmes and Thornton are both in their second season, and Mewhort has yet to play an NFL snap.

NFL Nation Buzz: Colts' top plays

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
10:00
AM ET
video 
Indianapolis Colts reporter Mike Wells discusses the team’s most memorable plays, including when Peyton Manning broke Dan Marino’s single-season TD pass record.

Time to step up: LaRon Landry

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
2:00
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- It's no secret the pressure players such as quarterback Andrew Luck and linebacker Robert Mathis are under to be at their best every week for the Indianapolis Colts. But you don't have to wonder if those players will show up to play on a week-to-week basis.

The same can't be said for some other players on the Colts' roster.

Landry
With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, we're going to take a look at a number of players who are under pressure to step up this season.

Time to step up: Safety LaRon Landry

Why he needs to step up: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson gave Landry a four-year, $24 million contract in 2013. Landry led the NFL in tackles after the first two weeks of the season, but then an ankle injury shut him down for four straight weeks. He wasn't the same player once he returned from the injury. Landry ended up being a disappointment in his first season in Indianapolis. He finished with only 87 tackles and no interceptions. Landry needs to be the veteran leader in the secondary because Antoine Bethea is no longer back there playing alongside of him. And the Colts need Landry to bounce back from a poor first season in order for their inconsistent defense to improve.

What he has to do: Too often Landry went for the big hit instead of making the simple tackle. See Kansas City's Jamaal Charles' touchdown run in Week 16 and New England's LeGarrette Blount's touchdown run in the playoff game if you need further proof. Landry is used to playing in the box, but Grigson likes for both of his safeties to have range. Landry needs to show more of that.

Outlook: The Colts haven't even started training camp and Landry already has an injury problem. He missed the mandatory minicamp last month with what the Colts described as a "soft-tissue" injury. It also doesn't help Landry did not attend any of the voluntary workouts during the offseason. Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano both acknowledged it would have been good if Landry attended at least part of the workouts.

Quotable: "The thing with LaRon is and I know Chuck (Pagano) alluded to it is he's a guy that his throttle is always full-bore. He's out there in parts unknown working out. We trust him in the fact that we know he's going to go harder than anyone." -- Grigson
Peyton ManningAP Photo/Michael Conroy
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 This is the last of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating to when they moved to Indianapolis in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The second was cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception of New England quarterback Tom Brady with 18 seconds left to seal the Colts' 18-point comeback in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007.

Score: Colts 34, Chargers 31
Date: Dec. 26, 2004. Site: RCA Dome

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Which is the most memorable play in Colts' history?

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It didn't seem like Peyton Manning would break Dan Marino's season touchdown passing record on this day. For 59 minutes you thought Manning would have to wait until the season finale against the Denver Broncos to pass the record.

Manning was untouchable by defenders all season leading up to the Week 16 game against San Diego.

But the Chargers sacked him four times, forced two fumbles and intercepted him once.

With the game on the line, though, Manning did what he does best: Be clutch.

Manning shook off the play call that came in through his headset and decided to make a backyard play call to receiver Brandon Stokley.

Manning told Stokley to run a post route.

Lined up in the slot, Stokley threw the defense off balance by faking a fade to the corner and cutting back inside on the post to catch the 21-yard touchdown pass from Manning. Chargers safety Terrence Kiel was faked out so badly by Stokley looking as though he was going to run the corner route that he fell in the end zone.

"You think the NFL is real complex," Manning told reporters after the game. "But it turns into street ball real quick."

The touchdown pass was the 49th of the season thrown by Manning, breaking the record set by Marino in 1984.

"It says a lot about Peyton that here we are, the game on the line, and he calls a play we've never run before," Stokley told reporters. "He calls a post. I just didn't want it to hit me in the face."

Manning spent the weeks leading up to that game talking about how playoff seeding was more important than passing Marino's record. The Colts beat the Chargers in overtime.

"At the time I threw it, there wasn't a lot of emotion for me, because if we don't get the 2-point conversion, this is a down locker room right now," Manning said after the game. "The fact that it happened, we won the game ... . It sure made for an exciting day."

 
Marlin JacksonAlbert Dickson/Sporting News/Getty Images
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This is the second of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Indianapolis Colts history dating back to when they moved from Baltimore in 1984. The first nomination was second-year quarterback Andrew Luck leading the Colts from 28 points down in the second half to beat Kansas City in the AFC playoffs last season. The final play is Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004.

Score: Colts 38, Patriots 34
Date: Jan. 21, 2007 Site: RCA Dome.

The Colts were down 21-6 at halftime when coach Tony Dungy gave his team a speech that even had his players wondering what he was talking about.

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Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson, who sealed the 18-point come-from-behind victory for Indianapolis with an interception with 18 seconds left in the game, gives a breakdown of what happened on that late-January day in 2007.

“The speech Coach Dungy gave was quite simple and for us it quite shocking at the same time when he said it. He came in with his cool, calm demeanor. Most coaches wouldn’t be cool and calm at that point in the game. He said it almost jokingly. He goes, ‘You know we got them right where we want them.' He said, 'We’re going to come out after halftime we’re going to go down and score, we’re going to stop them, we’re going to score again and we’ll be right back in the game.’ We were like, ‘We got them what?’ That’s exactly what happened. I think it was his demeanor not as much as what he said, but the way he came across that there was no doubt in his mind that we were going to win the game. We fed off his interview at halftime.

"As far as the play goes, I remember leading up to that play there was a sense that they were coming out in a certain formation. It was trips to my side. Troy Brown was in the slot and a receiver to the outside. I can’t remember the tight end as the third guy. They were pretty much running the same play two to three times in a row, trying to hit the tight end down the seam. It was obvious the first two times when they were dumping the ball down to the back out of the backfield.

"On the actual play, I saw the formation was the same thing so I backed up deeper so I didn’t have to take a deep drop and actually have it be a wasted step making my break on the ball because I was anticipating he was going to go to the tight end in the seam. I knew because of my film study that [Tom] Brady always in those types of situations would throw blindly in the opposite direction and that’s exactly what he did. Snapped the ball, looked opposite of me so I knew once he turned back my way I had already broke on the tight end, which allowed me to get a great jump to make the play and get the interception.

"For me it was a moment of disbelief, like did that really just happen? Did I really just make that play? We were now going to the Super Bowl. It was even sweeter because it was a victory over the New England Patriots. That made it even more special because of the history of the organization leading up to that game. They were a nemesis of ours for years. We beat them to get over the hump. And the fashion we were able to come back after being down by 18 points and still believing because of a great simple speech by coach Tony Dungy.”
 
The Colts' Mailbag was pretty full with questions over the weekend. Since I didn't get to answer them all, I'll spread some of them out and answer them throughout the week.


Mike Wells: Donte Moncrief does have to fight for a roster spot, but the challenge to make the team is steeper for Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers.

The Indianapolis Colts wouldn’t have wasted a third-round pick, especially since they only had five total in the draft, on Moncrief if they didn’t have high hopes for him. I’d say Moncrief has exceeded expectations so far during the offseason workouts. Of course, none of those workouts were done in pads or with the defense playing aggressive.

Whalen and Rogers both saw their odds of making the final roster -- depending on how many receivers the Colts keep -- increase when LaVon Brazill was suspended for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy last week.

Nothing is guaranteed, but it's pretty safe to assume Moncrief will be on the roster competing for the fourth receiver spot behind T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks this sesaon. The Colts could end up keeping five or six receivers on the roster this season.
T.Y. HiltonBrian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports
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This is one of three nominations for the most memorable plays in Colts' history dating back to when they moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore in 1984. In the next two days we'll feature: Peyton Manning's 21-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokley for Manning's 49th TD of the season, which broke Dan Marino's single-season TD record in 2004, and cornerback Marlin Jackson's interception of New England quarterback Tom Brady to seal the Colts' 18-point comeback in the AFC Championship Game in January 2007.

Score: Colts 45, Chiefs 44
Date: January 4, 2014 Site: Lucas Oil Stadium

Indianapolis Colts second-year quarterback Andrew Luck was playing in his first home playoff game, against a team he had beaten two weeks earlier.

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Which is the most memorable play in Colts' history?

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Discuss (Total votes: 30,682)

But the Colts didn't know what hit them.

Seven-point deficit. Ten-point deficit. Seventeen-point deficit. Twenty-one point deficit. The deficit grew as large as 28 points, and many of the Colts fans at sold-out Lucas Oil Stadium sat stone-faced, not believing what they were watching on the field.

Luck wasn't helping the situation. He looked like a rookie quarterback taking his first snaps. His third interception of the game gave the Chiefs a short field to work with, which they used to increase their lead to 38-10 just 81 seconds into the second half.

“[Luck] kept telling us, even at 38-10, 'We're going to win this game,'" offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo said.

Luck wasn't worried about the double-digit deficit. He proved six prior times in his young career that he could lead the Colts back from a double-digit deficit.

Luck -- pun intended -- was on the Colts' side. Trailing 41-31 early in the fourth quarter, Colts running back Donald Brown fumbled a handoff and the ball bounced off of center Samson Satele's helmet. But Luck picked up the ball and ran in from 5 yards out to cut Kansas City's lead to 41-38.

Indianapolis completed the improbable comeback when Luck stepped up in the pocket and found receiver T.Y. Hilton streaking downfield for a 64-yard touchdown with less than five minutes left in the game.

The 28-point comeback was the second-largest in NFL playoff history. Long snapper Matt Overton called it an, “Instant ESPN Classic,” after the game.

“[Luck's] not giving you a bunch of bulls--- when he says that stuff,” Castonzo said. “At no point does he not believe we're not going to win. He's led us on a lot of comebacks for a reason. The guy does not freak out.”
video

Indianapolis Colts linebacker and former Cleveland Browns team captain D'Qwell Jackson recalls multiple occasions when he tried to help troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Jackson and Gordon were teammates for two seasons in 2012 and 2013. As a nine-year veteran, Jackson took it upon himself to counsel Gordon about focusing on football and doing the right things off the field. That is particularly why Gordon's arrest on July 5 for suspected DWI in Raleigh, North Carolina, hit home for Jackson and led to one of the most thoughtful tweets from the NFL community.

Gordon led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was the 14th time a player had more than 1,600 receiving yards in a season since the NFL merger in 1970 but Gordon was the only one of those players to have three different starting quarterbacks (Jason Campbell, Brandon Weeden, Brian Hoyer) during such a season.

But this latest arrest now puts his playing career in jeopardy.


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Here’s Monday’s Colts’ Reading the Coverage……
  • Indianapolis Star Bob Kravitz wonders if there’s a double standard for Jim Irsay after receiver LaVon Brazill was suspended for at least a year for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy last week. Brazill obviously has a problem because this is the second time he’s been suspended for violating the substance-abuse policy. Irsay’s problems have been well documented and there appears to be more sympathy for him than Brazill. I touched on this same issue in early April. Now we’ll see if the Colts will show compassion for Brazill the same way they’ve done with their owner or if they’ll go ahead and cut ties with him.
  • Lindsay Jones of USA Today writes that the Colts are one of the teams looking for a replacement linebacker. The replacement she’s referring to is somebody stepping into Robert Mathis’ spot while he serves his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. Bjoern Werner has the inside track at starting in Mathis’ absence.
  • Mike Chappell of the Indy Star continues his series on former Colts. He’s got a story on former cornerback Ray Buchanan. Buchanan was with the Colts from 1993-96. He had eight interceptions with them during the 1994 season.
Mike Wells: The Colts will be fine at receiver. Hakeem Nicks had a "down" year last season and he still ended up with almost 900 yards receiving. Those numbers would have been good enough for second on the Colts by almost 300 yards last season. T.Y. Hilton had his first 1,000-yard receiving season and Reggie Wayne might not be the same Reggie Wayne from a few years ago, but he'll still be productive. You also can't forget about Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener at tight end. Wells: General manager Ryan Grigson is always looking to make roster moves, but it's highly unlikely that he'll do anything substantial between now and when the Colts report for training camp on July 23. Wells: I wouldn't call it Plan B, but they have other players on the roster that can play center. The plan is for Khaled Holmes to team with quarterback Andrew Luck for years to come. Grigson is very high on Holmes' potential. As far as a replacement for safety Antoine Bethea on the roster, it appeared Delano Howell would start alongside LaRon Landry early on, but now I'm starting to think it'll be veteran Mike Adams, whom the Colts signed in the middle of June. Wells: Bjoern Werner has the best chance to start at outside linebacker in Robert Mathis' absence, so it's up to Daniel Adongo, who worked his way up from the practice squad to being on special teams last season, to push Werner for snaps. Wells: The addition of Arthur Jones will help the defensive line. The Colts were 26th in the league in stopping the run last season. The offense as a whole will be significantly better. Three running backs will likely end up sharing the load, Allen is back at tight end with Fleener and the receivers have potential with the return of Wayne and addition of Nicks. Wells: He's coming along. Vick Ballard, like Wayne and Donald Thomas, didn't participate in offseason workouts. The real test for Ballard will be once he puts his pads on in training camp, cuts hard in practice or takes a hit on his knee. That's why I put Ballard behind Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw on the depth chart right now. Wells: You can't really judge Thomas yet because he hasn't even played two full games as a Colt. His season ended in Week 2 against Miami with a torn tendon in his quad and bicep. You can say Thomas is behind Jack Mewhort and Lance Louis because he didn't take part in the offseason workouts and he's still working his way back. Mewhort ended offseason workouts working with the first unit at guard. Wells: Richardson will get the first shot at starting, but don't sleep on Bradshaw. It only took one game for Bradshaw to be the Colts' most productive running back last season when he rushed for 95 yards against San Francisco in Week 3. Richardson had production issues last season, but Bradshaw (neck) and Ballard (knee) have health questions.

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