Pagano has high praise for undrafted rookie running back

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The Colts considered drafting running back Josh Ferguson as soon as the fourth round, Stephen Holder of the Indy Star wrote recently, then made sure they wouldn’t be outbid by other suitors when Ferguson ended up going undrafted.

Just a few weeks into Ferguson’s career, the Colts seem to believe that a $10,000 signing bonus and $35,000 in guarantees, per Holder, will end up being money well spent.

He’s a mismatch out in space,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of the 5-foot-9 Ferguson after last week’s minicamp. “He’s got juice. He can go.”

Ferguson missed some time in his senior season at Illinois with a shoulder injury, but he produced 21 total touchdowns in 2013-14 and went over 1,000 total yards in both of those seasons.

The Colts were 29th in the league in rushing last season. Frank Gore led the team with 967 yards, but quarterback Andrew Luck was second — and he only played in seven games. There are jobs to be won in the team’s backfield, and not just because Gore recently turned 33. Gore averaged just 3.7 yards per carry last season, and no other running back who carried more than six times averaged even 3.0 per carry.

“[Ferguson] is not just a third-down back,” Pagano said. “He’s a good runner. He’s explosive and twitchy and he’s got a jump cut that’s really, really good. The rubber will meet the road when we get to training camp and we put the pads on and see if that play speed is the same.”