Colts to count on 'Boom'

The season-ending loss of Ahmad Bradshaw means second-year running back Dan "Boom" Herron will share backfield workload with Trent Richardson against Jacksonville.

A tattoo on Dan Herron’s right shoulder reveals his nickname and running style.

The O’s in “BOOM” are lit cannonballs.

Who is “BOOM?”

“He’s just a very physical, downhill, North-South guy,” the second-year Indianapolis Colts running back said Wednesday. “I love contact.”

Herron is about to get his share of it Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The season-ending loss of leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw to a fractured fibula elevates Herron to No. 2 and sharing the backfield workload with Trent Richardson.

“But at the same time, I think I have a little wiggle to my game,” Herron said.

That said, when tacklers approach, “I try to hit you before you hit me.”

He’s played in big games in college at Ohio State. Colts rookie left offensive guard Jack Mewhort is also a Buckeye and says the NFL stage won’t be too big for Herron.

“I don’t think any moment is too big for Boom,” Mewhort said. “He’s one of those guys who’s always prepared when his number is called.”

Herron says he’s always prepared like he was a starter, as coaches and veteran teammates preach.

“He’s one of those guys who’s even keel all the time,” Mewhort said. “It seems like nothing really gets to him. He’s a confident guy and he plays really hard. He’s one of those guys who leads more by example. He’s not a big rah-rah guy in the locker room. When we were in school together, that’s what everybody loved about him.”

The Colts will need a boost from Boom as their never-ending search for offensive balance continues. Andrew Luck and the passing game are No. 1 in the league. But the Colts rank just 17th in rushing yards per game and 24th in rushing yards per carry.

In 19 NFL games, 16 of those with the Colts and three with Cincinnati in 2012, Herron has 112 yards on 31 carries, a 3.6-yard average. At 5-10 and 212, he’s also a capable pass catcher with three receptions for 66 yards the past two seasons with the Colts.

That will obviously be a need, considering Bradshaw led NFL running backs with six touchdown receptions. The Colts’ top rusher ran for 425 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, and two scores. He also was an excellent blocker who consistently bought Luck time by picking up blitzes.

Richardson will probably shoulder more of the load with Bradshaw gone, but the third overall selection in 2012 has yet to make the anticipated splash since being acquired last season from Cleveland for a first-round pick. He’s rushed for 391 yards, 3.4 yards per carry, and two touchdowns this season. He’s also caught 22 passes for 203 yards.

Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said both backs will be used on third down, when Bradshaw was particularly effective.

“He’s an explosive playmaker,” Hamilton said Thursday of Herron. “He’s a guy that can make plays and when he gets out in space, he can make a guy miss. In pass protection, he’s very capable. It’s a heck of an opportunity for Boom and we expect that he’ll go out and do well.”

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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