Analysis: Why Ahmad Bradshaw helps the Colts

Running back plays every down like his life depends on it.

Some Indianapolis Colts fans scratch their heads about why the team would bring back Ahmad Bradshaw.

Yeah, the guy gets hurt a lot. And it’s probably a given his body will break again at some point and the Colts won’t benefit from having him at season’s end, when the games count most.

But you don’t need to talk to his teammates to understand why they love the two-time Super Bowl-winning running back. At 29, he’s an old soul in the NFL, which is to say, he’s been there and done that and isn’t going to change how he plays the game.

And that’s all out, as if his life depends upon each play. A team can never have enough guys like this. Whether it’s for three games or 10, it’s better to have him than not.

That’s running with the ball, catching it to make a play or being the Colts’ best backfield blitz protector since Edgerrin James.

“Fires me up,” tight end Dwayne Allen said Thursday. “He’s a heck of a competitor, one, but a great guy to have in the locker room also. Whenever we see the 44 in the huddle, he just energizes us.”

When Bradshaw fractured a fibula in last year’s New England game, he could have said enough is enough. He had endured eight years of pounding, so many surgeries to his ankles and feet, nobody would have blamed him for retiring.

But he wanted another chance. He prayed for a chance to re-join the Colts and the guys he called his “brothers.”

That unmistakeable drive is evident when speaking to him. Bradshaw wants to be a part of the team. He doesn’t mind backing up Frank Gore, his offseason workout partner. He welcomes the chance to fill a role and help out, whatever it is.

So many NFL guys succeed, get paid and are content. They talk like they’ve earned what they came here for, and often times they play like it.

Not Bradshaw. The man plays like he still has something to prove.

Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton smiled and said he looks forward to when Bradshaw enters the huddle and hollers, “Come on, man!”

While everybody is wired differently for the NFL, it’s a guy like Bradshaw who brings players together so they can overcome whatever obstacles present themselves. He’s so determined, he makes everyone else in that huddle just a little more driven, too.

That’s why offensive linemen say they love blocking for him. And the rest of his teammates just love him.

That’s why, whether it’s just three games or 10 before his body breaks, it’s better to have Bradshaw for whatever he can provide than not.

And adding him in Week 6 makes a lot of sense. He’s healthy and fresh. He won’t be asked to carry the load. It’s possible his body cooperates for the rest of the season and he’s still there come January to help make a difference.

Whatever happens, Bradshaw is a reminder that players should give it everything they’ve got because the next play isn’t promised to anyone.

Everyone should admire and appreciate a guy like that. The Colts most certainly do.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.


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