Former New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw has yet to play in a pre-season game for the Indianapolis Colts. And it looks very much as if Bradshaw won’t be suiting up for Indianapolis’ pre-season finale at Cincinnati on Thursday night either.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, though, says that’s fine with him. Pagano would prefer to wait until his team’s Sept. 8 regular season opener with Oakland to unleash Indianapolis’ newest offensive weapon.
When asked Monday if he needed to see Bradshaw get some limited work in against the Bengals, the Colts’ coach’s response was a very succinct one. “I don’t,” Pagano voiced.
Bradshaw, signed as a veteran free agent on June 11, has taken part in limited drills with the Colts over the past week. He missed most of training camp after being placed on Indianapolis’ physically unable to perform list and was activated two weeks ago.
A pair of surgical procedures on his right foot during the offseason necessitated placing Bradhaw on the Colts’ PUP list. He was signed to Indianapolis’ roster during the final week of organized team activiy practices but couldn’t participate.
Bradshaw has had foot issues throughout his NFL career. Bradshaw was sidelined with a stress fracture in 2011 but made it back in time for the Giant’s late-season playoff and Super Bowl run. Counting the two surgeries this year, he’s had four total operations on his foot since entering the NFL as a seventh-round pick by New York in 2007.
Yet, when healthy, Bradshaw has proven to be a valuable offensive asset. He had rushed for 1,000 yards or more twice and has amassed 4,232 career rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns.
Throw in 132 career receptions for an additional 1,087 yards and three TDs and it’s understandable why Pagano is willing to wait a little bit longer before putting him on the field in an Indianapolis uniform.
No news is good news -- The Colts coach didn’t have anything to add Monday in regards to the availability of starting left offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo.
Castonzo suffered a left sprained medial collateral ligament in the first quarter of the Colts’ 27-6 pre-season win over Cleveland Saturday night. He did not return. The sprain has been diagnosed as a mild one, which means there’s a chance he might be ready to play against Oakland in two weeks.
“Really no other changes to this point,” Pagano said. That includes the decision to start veteran Joe Reitz in Castonzo’s spot this week. Reitz, who has also worked at offensive guard, played most of the first half at tackle in the Cleveland win.
“Obviously feel great about Gos [offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus] on the right and AC [Castonzo] on the left but you’ve got to have a swing tackle,” the coach explained. “Felt like we knew enough about Bradley [Sowell] and the other guys. But [we] wanted to give Joe a shot and see how he’d do out there and to this point, he’s done well.”
Holmes returns -- Rookie center Khaled Holmes returned to full practice Monday. He had been sidelined since the first week of training camp with a high ankle sprain.
“He practiced [Monday]. We’ll go in and look at the tape and see how he did. But to me, just from a bird’s eye view standing out there, he did okay,” the Colts coach said.
“We’ll evaluate what he does [today] and then Wednesday is obviously just a mock game, slowed down pace. If he feels good and the trainers feel good where he’s at, then like Hugh [Thornton] last week, it’d be nice to get him out there and get him a little action.”
Holmes and fellow rookie Thornton should get a chance to get a lot of work in Thursday night in Cincinnati. The former Illinois offensive lineman played right offensive guard in the Cleveland game in his first extensive work of the pre-season. He was also recovering from a high ankle sprain.
“He played well. I think the first snap he got in, we pulled him [to run block]. If you go back and watch the tape, it’s pretty impressive what he did on his very first snap out there,” Pagano said.
“Again, he played consistent football throughout. He was good in the run game. Got tied up on one pull, ended up on the ground, but other than that, run and pass he did a nice job.”
Playing time decision coming -- Pagano and his coaching staff were scheduled to meet Monday afternoon and decide who will and who won’t play against the Bengals.
“We’re going to prepare like we always prepare, much like Cincinnati. You know how this thing is every year with the Bengals. They do a great job,” he said. “I know both clubs are going to go try to win a football game. Still got a lot of things to work on. We’ll be smart and I know they’ll be smart.”
Jobs will be on the line Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium. NFL teams must trim their rosters to the regular-season maximum of 53 by 6 p.m. Saturday.
“When you look at our roster, we created so much competition and we’re deeper across the board at all positions, so we’re going to have to let some really good football players go. And they’ll end up on other teams like everybody else’s guys, but it’s going to be tough,” Pagano said.
“We all work together [to make the final roster decisions]. It’s a process. We communicate back and forth [with general manager Ryan Grigson and his staff]. That’s one of the great things about our setup here. The way things go is we’ve got great communication top to bottom. It’s a collaborative effort, if you will.”