Surprising team’s ground game takes on added importance

When opportunity first knocked, Vick Ballard didn’t exactly throw open the door.

He barely cracked it open.

Through the Indianapolis Colts’ first five games, the rookie running back carried 29 times for 67 yards and a dismal 2.3-yard average — totals that did nothing to enhance his standing in a backfield in desperate need of fortifying.

Fortunately for Ballard, he had a true believer in interim coach Bruce Arians, who never doubted the fifth-round draft pick’s ability to be THE guy to carry the Colt’s ground game.

As reflected by recent performances, Ballard is starting to justify Arians’ confidence.

One of the few bright spots in Sunday’s 29-17 loss at Houston, Ballard ran for a career-high 105 yards and has rushed for a combined 353 yards in the past five games. He has averaged 4.7 yards per carry during the stretch and firmly established himself as the Colts’ feature back — not only this season, but possibly beyond.

“Oh, there’s never been any doubt in my mind. I’ve always thought that from when we brought him in,” Arians said. “I think everyone is starting to see it now, that he’s a guy that can tote the ball the whole game.”

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