ST. MARTIN, MS (WLOX) - A healthy Vick Ballard of Pascagoula is hoping to crack the New Orleans Saints roster this season. The former fifth round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts hasn't played a down of football since the 2013 season due to a torn ACL and a torn Achilles.
After he agreed to a settlement with the Colts, he signed a free agent contract with the Saints. The 5-foot-10, 224 pound running back was having an outstanding 2012 rookie season before he tore his ACL. Vick has rushed for 814 yards with 2 touchdowns and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. He added 17 receptions for 152 yards and a TD.
Ballard got himself ready to play for the 2013 season, but after only 13 carries for 63 yards, the injury-bug struck again. Ballard would be lost for the season due to a torn Achilles.
In September of 2015 the Colts released Ballard after a settlement. He says the comeback wasn't easy.
"It was tough and I can't sit here and play like Superman, like it didn't phase me, "stated Ballard. "It was a lot of growth, a lot of hurt, a lot of pain. But, on the positive side I learned a lot about myself, a lot about football and things that can facilitate me in being a better player."
Ballard says he's ready to get back up and vie for playing time in New Orleans.
On Wednesday afternoon Vick Ballard drove from New Orleans to meet with the St. Martin High School football team. Ballard gave his thoughts on football and on life's ups and downs. Ballard says he's back up and ready to carry the pigskin out of the Saints offensive backfield.
"Everywhere I've been I always end up rising to the top and I don't plan on it being any different over there, "said Ballard.
He'll face competition from at least five veteran running back beginning with former No. 1 draft pick Mark Ingram out of Alabama. Throw-in C.J. Spiller, Travaris Cadet, Marcus Murphy and Tim Hightower and you can see there will be an interesting battle to find out who cracks the final roster. Ballard says he expects to be in that number.
"One thing I learned with all this time-off, you can't worry about everything, you've got to worry about yourself and stack those good days up and hope for the best, "stated Ballard.
He did say that's it's been great having a year under his belt where he didn't have surgery. "That's a positive and I'm trying to keep that momentum going and hopefully it carries over into the season, "said Ballard.
While there will be some rust since he's hasn't been tackled since early in the 2013 season, Ballard says he started working out as soon as he could following the Achilles injury.
"I've been training the whole time, "Ballard said. "Once I get back on the field I feel like its like riding a bike, you known, you never forget how to ride a bike."
I watched Ballard play at Pascagoula High, at Gulf Coast Community College and for two seasons at Mississippi State and he's always been a determined running back. He started 23-of-25 games at MSU and rushed for 2.157 yards with 29 touchdowns. Ballard averaged 5.6 yards per carry. He added 30 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns. His 186 points scored at Mississippi State rank fifth on the school's all-time records list and his 2.157 rushing yards is 10th all-time.