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INDIANAPOLIS – The insurance Chris Ballard had at the running back position took a severe hit back on June 29.

With Ballard and the Colts on summer vacation, the late-June Friday news dump that afternoon struck Robert Turbin with a 4-game suspension.

That news took the Colts starting running back from the spring—and easily the most proven veteran in a room that no longer has the reliable Frank Gore—out of the mix for the first quarter of the 2018 regualr season.

Behind Turbin, was three very young runners (Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins), a guy coming off a season-ending knee injury (Christine Michael) and a guy who figures to be on the outside-looking in for a roster spot (Josh Ferguson).

Michael is the only one of those 5 with starting experience in the NFL, having 9 career starts, all coming in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.

Youth is rampant throughout this group, but Ballard remains intrigued, despite not having the dependable Turbin

“I think a lot of Robert,” Ballard said of Turbin, 28, getting suspended. “He’s a heck of a pro. He owned up. He’s going to take his punishment and move forward. He will still get reps in camp.”

But when September rolls around, Turbin will be MIA for the next month.

Time to see what the youngsters can do.

“I’m excited about what (Marlon) Mack can do,” Ballard said. “I’m excited about (Jordan) Wilkins and (Nyheim) Hines. These are talented, talented people. (Josh) Ferguson had a great offseason. Christine Michael had a great offseason.

“I’m excited to see how they develop in their roles and how our staff uses them.”

The new running back by committee rotation, with Gore now in Miami, has to have Mack as the favorite for those early reps.

Mack is healthy after missing the spring with a torn labrum. It was pretty remarkable to learn that Mack first injured his shoulder during last year’s camp. Mack played his entire rookie season with that shoulder injury, which further explains why this staff was very encouraged by the more physical nature seen as the 2017 season went along. The second-year running back will wear a brace during camp as the Colts try and see if there’s 3-down potential in Mack.

In the rookies Hines and Wilkins, the Colts have two very different runners. Ideally, Frank Reich would probably like to use Hines more as a hybrid running back/wide receiver and less as an every-down back. The staff likes the vision of Wilkins, who was taken in the 5th round out of Mississippi.

At 220 pounds, Michael has more of a Turbin-like frame and could offer that missing (and needed) short-yardage role.

Ferguson has had opportunities before, on prior staffs, and looks to be too similar to Mack or Hines to truly make himself a 53-man roster member. But we will see if this new offense and a Turbin suspension opens things up for him.

“I like the fact that our guys are mostly three-down backs,” Reich says of the inexperienced group. “They can mostly play all three downs. What I’ve seen is these guys are all good in pass protection.

“What I like is the versatility of our players. Then, we just have to see who has that knack with the ball in their hands to make guys miss (and) to break tackles. That’s what we will have to find out.”

One has to think the Colts will have their eye on the waiver wire at the end of August to see if a veteran becomes available.

However this shakes out, the running back position is easily the most inexperienced/unproven group on the Indy offense.