INDIANAPOLIS — Chris Ballard has had good fortune with veteran in-season additions.
Safety Mike Mitchell was named the AFC's Defensive Player of the Week in his second game with the Colts, and wide receiver Dontrelle Inman has almost immediately stepped in as a sure-handed intermediate target for quarterback Andrew Luck.
Jalen Collins represents the second-year general manager's biggest swing yet.
The former Atlanta cornerback was a low-risk addition Thursday when he was signed to Indianapolis' practice squad. A second-round pick out of LSU in 2015, Collins has the size (6-foot-1, 203 pounds) and ability to be a factor in the NFL.
But he just completed a 10-game suspension to start the season — the fourth ban of his fledgling career — and he's one more failed drug test away from a one-year absence from the league.
Collins met with reporters at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center before Thursday's practice and showed an understanding of the precarious situation he's placed himself in.
“I really don’t have a lot of chances,” he said. “I have learned from my experiences, did my time. I’m just ready to get going.”
The Colts are in need of help in the defensive secondary.
Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles became the latest opponent to shred Indianapolis' pass defense on Sunday. He threw for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Jaguars' 29-26 loss.
Opponents have completed 72.4 percent of their passes and have averaged 281 yards through the air this year.
Between suspensions, Collins made eight starts in 24 career games for the Falcons. He has two interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
He started all three postseason games for Atlanta following the 2016 regular season, but he hasn't played in a game that counts since the Falcons' Super Bowl LI loss against New England.
“It’s been a long, long time being out, being away from it,” Collins said. “Just took some time for myself to get my head in a good place and, the things that I was struggling with, put those things behind.”
Indianapolis' practice squad spot comes with no guarantees.
Collins can be released at any time for any reason. But if he can rediscover his game and stay clean off the field, the upside is well worth the minimal risk.
“For myself, I know what I can do,” Collins said. “It’s just a matter of somebody giving me a chance, and that’s what they have done here.”
Indianapolis got mostly good news on the injury front Thursday.
Safety Clayton Geathers (knee) and safety Mike Mitchell (calf) returned to practice on a full and limited basis, respectively. The Colts also welcomed linebacker Anthony Walker (neck) back to full participation.
Left guard Quenton Nelson (back) and defensive end Kemoko Turay (neck) remained full participants for the second straight day.
Tight end Ryan Hewitt (ankle) and cornerback D.J. Killings (ankle) were limited participants.
Safety Malik Hooker (hip) headlines the list of players who did not practice. There appears to be a chance he could miss his second game in the past three outings.
Cornerback Nate Hairston (ankle), tight end Erik Swoope (knee) and offensive lineman Le'Raven Clark (personal) also did not practice.