Colts hoping Frank Gore can provide boost to ground game
ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Frank Gore came to Indianapolis to win a championship.
The Colts needed him to get their running game off the ground.
Now it’s time for this seemingly perfect combination to start producing results.
“I am happy to be here. I wanted to be here as a free agent. I’m here to come and do the best that I can and be the best player that I can be in every phase of the game: blocking, catching and running,” Gore said after Tuesday morning’s workout. “I want to do some good things here.”
While the 32-year-old Gore may not possess the upside of younger, cheaper running backs, he certainly provides the Colts with something they’ve been lacking -- a known commodity.
Coach Chuck Pagano has preached the importance of power football from the moment he arrived in 2012.
But while Gore excelled as the lynchpin in San Francisco, the Colts kept going through players. Donald Brown left in free agency, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw finished the past two seasons on injured reserve and Trent Richardson flamed out.
The results didn’t change much, either.
Indy still hasn’t produced a 1,000-yard runner since 2007, the year after it won the Super Bowl. And Ballard’s 814-yard season in 2012 is the only time a Colts runner has topped 700 yards since their 2009 AFC championship season.
Now the Colts are asking the stocky, steady Gore to solve the problem.
“He’s got great vision. He makes great decisions, great reads and he’s very decisive,” Pagano said. “When he puts a foot in the ground he gets north and south and he can jump cut and do all those kinds of things.”
Since winning San Francisco’s starting job in 2006, Gore has topped the 1,000-yard mark eight times, been selected to five Pro Bowls and helped the 49ers reach three NFC championship games. He finished his time there as the 49ers career rushing leader (11,073) and second in franchise history in rushing touchdowns (64).
While some questioned whether Gore might be running out of steam, the Colts didn’t. Instead, after Gore initially agreed to sign with Philadelphia, Indy welcomed his change of mind.
So far, Gore looks like he hasn’t lost a step.
During the first three days of training camp, he’s broken long runs, caught long passes, plowed through hopeful tacklers and, perhaps most important, protected Andrew Luck against the blitz.
But the Colts also realize that most teams in today’s game need multiple backs to be successful, so they’ve worked on the depth.
Daniel “Boom” Herron, who replaced Richardson as the starter late last season, is back.
Ballard has been cleared to practice after missing 15 games in 2013 with a torn ACL in his right knee and all of 2014 with a torn left Achilles tendon. But Ballard left Tuesday afternoon’s practice after his left hamstring tightened up.
Indy also drafted Josh Robinson in the sixth round and still has Zurlon Tipton from last year’s team, too.
Add the new weapons in the passing game and what they hope will be an improved offensive line, and the Colts believe they can alleviate some of the burden Luck’s had to carry without a ground game -- if Gore is indeed the missing piece.
“We did the numbers, we crunched all that stuff and took a good look at it, but tape doesn’t lie,” Pagano said. “He has taken great care of himself so there was enough there, and the type of player that he is, how he is wired, his competitive nature. All those kind of things. He looks great.”
NOTE: Pagano, a cancer survivor, wore an Eric Berry T-shirt at the afternoon practice. It read “Be bold Be brave Be Berry.” Berry returned to Kansas City’s practice field last week after battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma.