He will see more specialists to decide if surgery is necessary, but the Colts (6-4) must plan on not having their leading rusher for at the least an extended period and possibly the rest of the season.
Bradshaw ran for 425 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. He also led NFL running backs with six TD receptions, and contributed 38 catches for 300 yards.
“He’s been seen by our doctors, our specialists,” head coach Chuck Pagano said Monday. “He’s going to see a couple more. I’ll have more information in the coming days to see what the extent is and what they’re going to do with that fracture.”
The fibula is a small non-weight-bearing bone that helps anchor the lateral supports of the knee and its end is a crucial lateral support to the ankle. Depending upon the severity of the injury, Bradshaw might not need surgery — athletes in other sports have continued to compete — but it’s a painful injury and given the pounding a running back endures, a lengthy timetable for recovery might force the team to place him on injured reserve.
In addition to providing a spark with his hard-hitting running style and elusiveness in the open field after catching passes, Bradshaw has been an excellent blocker in picking up blitzes to give quarterback Andrew Luck more time to throw.
“It kills you. It kills you,” Pagano said of losing Bradshaw. “He’s a warrior. He loves football. He loves his teammates. He loves the ‘Shoe.’ he loves competing. Throw out the production. Throw out everything he does. He’s just a great player and a great teammate. We’re going to miss his energy, his passion and everything he brings to the table during the week, during preparation and then certainly on game day. You hate it. You hate to see it.”
The two-time Super Bowl winner has been dogged by injuries throughout his career with knee, foot and neck issues forcing him to miss 25 games. A neck injury ended his 2013 season with the Colts after three games. He has undergone three surgeries on his right foot as well as procedures on his left foot and both ankles during his career. The Colts re-signed him to a one-year, $855,000 contract for this season.
The Colts will move Daniel Herron into a tandem with starter Trent Richardson, who has 391 yards rushing, 3.7 yards per carry, and two TDs as well as 22 receptions for 203 yards. Herron, in mostly mop-up duty, has run for 74 yards on 22 carries, 3.4 yards per carry.
“Like coach always says, you have to prepare like a starter,” said Herron, a second-year pro out of Ohio State. “I’ve been doing that ever since. I’m ready now.”
Herron admitted losing Bradshaw is a tough setback.
“Ahmad is one of those great players, a great leader,” he said. “It’s a hard loss. He’s kind of one of those guys you can’t really replace. We’ve just got to all come together, just play our game and go out there and keep fighting.”
In another injury update, Pagano said tight end Dwayne Allen, who leads the team with seven touchdown receptions, has a low ankle sprain. Allen hopes to return for Sunday’s home game against Jacksonville (1-9).
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.