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Colts waive injured running back Vick Ballard

Linebacker Josh McNary promoted from practice squad to take roster spot of running back who couldn't stay healthy since 2013.

The Indianapolis Colts’ Tuesday decision to waive injured running back Vick Ballard begs the question of will the team stand pat at the position with two rookie backups behind Frank Gore?

Sixth-round pick Josh Robinson has fumbled in each of his last two appearances, losing one in the third preseason game and having another bounce out of bounds in Sunday’s season opener. Undrafted Tyler Varga had an 18-yard reception, 2-yard rush and averaged 26.5 yards on two kickoff returns.

It’s possible the Colts have another player in mind. Ahmad Bradshaw played the past two seasons with the Colts but wasn’t re-signed in the offseason. The free agent reportedly faces a one-game league suspension after pleading no contest and being found guilty of a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge in May. He paid a fine as part of the resolution.

Bradshaw, like Ballard, has been unable to stay healthy the past two seasons, but when he played last year, he was effective. The two-time Super Bowl winner caught six touchdown passes in addition to averaging 4.7 yards per carry and rushing for four more scores.

A fractured fibula ended his eighth NFL season after 10 games. The year before that, his first season with the Colts lasted just three games due to a neck injury that required surgery. Bradshaw, 29, has rushed for 4,843 yards with a 4.6-yard-per-carry average in his career.

Ballard, 25, led the Colts with 814 yards rushing as a rookie in 2012. He’s perhaps most remembered for his inverted leap to the pylon to score a deciding overtime touchdown on a pass reception at Tennessee.

But the former fifth-round pick out of Mississippi State hasn’t been able to stay on the field since. He played one game in 2013 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. His 2014 ended in training camp due to a torn Achilles tendon.

One of the more popular preseason storylines in August, Ballard missed more practice time and preseason games due to hamstring issues. He re-aggravated a strain in the preseason finale, which prompted the expectation that he would be among final cuts.

That he stuck on the roster raised eyebrows, but he didn’t practice last week and was inactive for the Colts’ 27-14 loss at Buffalo in Sunday’s season opener.

If Ballard clears waivers, he’ll revert to injured reserve. But because his hamstring problems aren’t considered serious, expect him to ask for an injury settlement so he can pursue another team in free agency.

Ballard’s roster spot was filled by linebacker Josh McNary, who recently was acquitted in a rape trial and signed before the regular season to the practice squad.

The Colts also signed running back Zurlon Tipton and offensive guard Robert Myers to the practice squad and released defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton.

Tipton, as an undrafted rookie, was on the active roster for the season opener, then was signed to the practice squad and stayed there for two months until being promoted to the active roster in late November. The backup appeared in six regular-season games, which included one TD pass reception, then played in all three playoff games as a reserve, rushing for 68 yards on 18 carries (3.8 yards per carry) with one touchdown.

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