One day after the Indianapolis Colts surprisingly kept five running backs in their roster trim to 53 players, the decision made more sense.
Backup running back Dan Herron was waived injured Sunday due to a left shoulder injury sustained on a kickoff return in Thursday’s preseason finale. The Colts were obviously concerned about his prognosis, hence they kept oft-injured running back Vick Ballard as well as undrafted rookie rusher Tyler Varga.
While Frank Gore is the No. 1 back, subtracting the third-year pro nicknamed “Boom” is a setback. By last season’s end, Herron had become the starter. He was re-signed to a one-year, exclusive-rights tender in the offseason, presumably to back up Gore.
Now the Colts’ backup job is in the hands of two rookies, Josh Robinson and Varga, as well as Ballard, who has missed the past two seasons due to injuries and tweaked a hamstring twice during this preseason.
Herron didn’t have a carry in Thursday’s game, but returned two kickoffs for 55 yards. He’s been listed as the team’s kickoff returner, and suffered the injury in the second quarter.
Head coach Chuck Pagano was asked in a Friday conference call why Herron was in a game played mostly by reserves who would soon be cut on Saturday.
“We’re still evaluating everybody,” Pagano said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Hey, we know what Boom is. We know what this guy is,’ and all those kind of things, but we didn’t play the one runner (Gore). We had Josh (Robinson) down. Fortunately we got Vick (Ballard) healthy enough to start the game. It was unfortunate that he had an injury.
“It’s unfortunate what happened to Boom on the return. That can happen at practice. It can happen at any time. It’s a decision that I made. I’m not going to look back on it, anything like that. Again, it is what it is.”
Herron, 26, tied a franchise record with 10 receptions in January’s AFC Wild Card playoff victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. In 16 regular-season games with three starts, he rushed for 351 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, and scored his first NFL touchdown. He also caught 21 passes for 173 yards. In the playoffs, he started all three games, rushing for 170 yards, 3.8 yards per carry, with two touchdowns, and caught 20 passes for 128 yards.
Should he clear waivers, which is expected because of his injury, Herron will revert to the Colts’ season-ending injured reserve.
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