5 Unheralded Indianapolis Colts Who Must Step Up in 2014

5 Unheralded Indianapolis Colts Who Must Step Up in 2014

Indianapolis Colts Huddle 2013
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The Indianapolis Colts are poised to contend again in 2014, and several players who aren't yet household names will have the opportunity to contribute to a potential playoff run, especially when it comes to the blue-collar trench positions. Here are five returning Colts players who will (hopefully) increase their productivity this season and make major (and much needed) contributions to the team.

5. Erik Walden (OLB)

Erik Walden Indianapolis Colts
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5. Erik Walden (OLB)

Erik Walden Indianapolis Colts
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SPORTS

Erik Walden signed with the Colts as a free agent last season and had a bit of a rough adjustment, including a one-game suspension for head-butting Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans (for which he immediately apologized). Walden has been on five teams during his seven years in the league, including a Super Bowl run with the Green Bay Packers. A second year of stability in coach Chuck Pagano's defense should help his production this year.

4. Vick Ballard (RB)

Vick Ballard Indianapolis Colts
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4. Vick Ballard (RB)

Vick Ballard Indianapolis Colts
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SPORTS

Ballard is the lesser known of the three running backs on the Colts' roster. With his young legs, Ballard will have an opportunity to make a name for himself, especially if Trent Richardson continues to struggle and Ahmad Bradshaw has trouble staying healthy. We know Pep Hamilton will insist on running the ball; if Ballard is fully recovered from a freak knee injury of his own, he'll get his chance to win the job.

3. Delano Howell (S)

Delano Howell Indianapolis Colts
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3. Delano Howell (S)

Delano Howell Indianapolis Colts
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SPORTS

With Antoine Bethea now on the San Francisco 49ers, the Colts need some of their young defenders to step up and fill the void. Don't be surprised if the Colts look to the draft to fill this position, but Howell's experience, if he can stay healthy and perform more consistently, may prove valuable in a long playoff campaign.

2. Hugh Thornton (G)

Hugh Thornton Indianapolis Colts
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2. Hugh Thornton (G)

Hugh Thornton Indianapolis Colts
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SPORTS

The key to success this season will be the offensive line, both in terms of opening up running lanes and keeping Andrew Luck healthy. The league just passed a rule that will keep the clock running after all sacks, but regardless, they need to make sure sacks/hits/knock-downs are a non-issue. Thornton and the rest of the offensive line need to perform consistently if the Colts are going to make a serious playoff run.

1. Khaled Holmes (C)

Khaled Holmes Indianapolis Colts
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1. Khaled Holmes (C)

Khaled Holmes Indianapolis
Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY SPORTS

The luxury of a consistent center like Jeff Saturday is something Andrew Luck has yet to enjoy, but the Colts have said they hope Khaled Holmes might evolve into their center of the future. If Luck can build a rapport with Holmes (entering his second year) and Holmes can stay healthy while stepping into the role, that will go a long way toward stabilizing the Colts' offensive attack.


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