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INDIANAPOLIS – The energizer bunny of all modern-day NFL running backs is still humming right along.
Frank Gore will be back in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon, starting for the visiting Miami Dolphins in their matchup with the Colts, at the age of 35.
The smile on Andrew Luck’s face quickly grew on Wednesday when asked about Gore.
“Frank was the best type of teammate you could ask for,” a beaming Luck said of Gore. “It will be really fun to see him. I won’t be rooting for him this week, but it’ll be fun to see him. He’s just one of those personalities, one of those guys you miss. He has an infectious personality. He’s a heck of a football player and I always wish him the best success in whatever he does.
“He’s an all-time great. He always seemed a step ahead. And you would say, ‘Frank, how did you know? What were you thinking?’ Sometimes he couldn’t explain it, which is how those great athletes are. I think he had incredible instincts. He prepared obsessively.”
In Miami this season, Gore is actually averaging 4.5 yards per carry (528 yards on 117 carries), which is certainly higher than the 3.8 YPC he had in three seasons with the Colts.
The Colts decided in the offseason they would not try and re-sign Gore, a smart move for both parties.
Still, even Frank Reich was gushing about Gore on Wednesday.
“He’s legendary, not just in this building,” Reich said. “Every team I’ve been on, I’ve heard about Frank Gore.
“As an offensive coach, and someone who’s spent a lot of time on pass protection, Frank Gore has set the standard for backs and protecting, with fundamentals and getting it done but also in understanding protections.”
Gore’s longevity will continue to be one of the strongest reasons why he should be a first ballot Hall of Famer one day.
The 35-year-old Gore has played in 122 straight games (118 straight starts), which is the longest active for streak for any running back, wide receiver, tight end or offensive linemen in the league.
Gore was beloved in the Indy locker room.
Left tackle Anthony Castonzo initially couldn’t pick out just one specific memory from playing with Gore for three seasons.
“Playing with him is my favorite memory,” Castonzo says. “Everything about it. He’s just a guy who loves the game. He’s a passionate guy. He was all in, all the time.
“My favorite memory is him constantly saying to Jack Mewhort, ‘Pull tight! You’ve got to pull tight!’ because he always wanted to squeak through that little seam.”
On Wednesday, Gore joined the Indy media for a conference call.
Here were Gore’s comments about returning to Indianapolis this Sunday:
- On Luck: “I’m happy for him. He’s balling. I know how much he loves the game of football and how he approached the game. He’s back. Especially when you watched film early on you could tell he was kind of timid, but now he’s looking like that boy coming out of Stanford.”
- On only playing with Luck for 22 of 48 games with the Colts: “Knowing that I would have had some easy running lanes because of a healthy Andrew Luck. You are going to get 6, 7-man boxes, something I never had in my career.”
- On the Indy running backs playing behind an improved offensive line: “I know they’re happy. The group is playing well. They’ve got good schemes. I’m happy for Marlon (Mack), seeing his growth from Year One to now. They should be happy. They aren’t having to deal with what I was having to deal with.”
- On what he’s seen from the Indy offensive line: “Just the consistency. You know who you’re playing with. As an O-lineman, once you get to know your guys, you know certain runs off certain looks. They are doing a great job. I’m happy for them.”
- On any regrets about joining the Colts in 2015: “They were coming off an AFC Championship. You look from the outside looking in, you don’t know what’s in the locker room until you get there. Andrew Luck, the year he did come back (2015) and we beat Denver, I think we could have gotten on a roll. We were the first team to beat them. But then (Luck) got injured again.”
- On his relationship Chris Ballard: “One thing I respect about Chris, he’s honest. As a man, that’s all you want, especially in this league where there’s a lot of BS. He got a chance to be around me playing ball and said he respects the way I play the game of football. We still talk, text. Him, Ed Dodds (the team’s Assistant General Manager), I respect Dodds a lot. I think we look at football the same way. I respect that. I’m happy that (Ballard) told me that he was going to get it right, especially starting up front. He’s doing a great job.”
- On how much longer he wants to play: “I’m still year-to-year. I’ll take a look at it after this season. Hopefully we finish strong and I do whatever it takes to have my team be successful and also have individual success. I’m just going to evaluate myself and my body and see if I really want to do it again this offseason. I take it one year at a time.”
- On wanting to stay around the game of football after playing: “Yeah, I want to stay around the game. I think that’ll help me because of how much I love the game of football. I think I do want to stay around.”
- On returning to Indianapolis this weekend: “I’ll be excited to see all the guys—(the equipment staff), all the trainers, some of the guys that I played with. It’ll be good. We are both 5-5. We both want to win. I’m coming there to try and help my team get a victory.”
NFL’s All-Time Rushing Leaders:
1. Emmitt Smith (18,355 yards)
2. Walter Payton (16,726 yards)
3. Barry Sanders (15,269 yards)
4. Frank Gore (14,554 yards)