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INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time since 2014, the Colts will be starting a running back not named Frank Gore.
Boom Herron was the last running back to be in the starting 11 for the Colts.
In 2018, the ‘starting’ running back in Indianapolis will really be in name only.
The Colts are going to be rotating several backs throughout the course of a game, offering much more of a balanced look to the ball carrier position.
“We’re going to play a lot of running backs,” running backs coach Tom Rathman says. “You’re not going to have a bell cow, so to speak, a guy that’s going to carry the load. We’ve got a lot of different styles and I think anytime you have a lot of different styles, you want to try to utilize that.
“So you run one of the players with a certain style and then you change it up the next series and it keeps the defense on their toes. So that’s what we would anticipate doing.”
Let’s dive into how the Colts might use their running backs in 2018.
Currently, the Colts have 6 running backs on their 90-man roster. When predicting the team’s 53-man roster last week, I decided to keep 4 running backs (Robert Turbin, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins).
So, going off those 4 running backs, let’s break down how those reps could look:
- Robert Turbin: The veteran is back for a 3rd season with the Colts. Turbin was the ‘starter’ during the spring. While you might call Turbin the current favorite to start for the Colts, I would be a bit surprised if that meant he received more touches in a game than the first two guys below. Turbin is valuable and offers a nice short-yardage option while also being the most reliable 3-down back. That can’t be taken for granted.
- Marlon Mack: Shoulder surgery earlier this year kept Mack off the field for the entire offseason program. Mack started to see his role grow more and more late last season. If Mack can round out his game (particularly with his blocking and in-between the tackle running), he could very well see the most carries/touches for the Colts in 2018.
- Nyheim Hines: This is a unique chess piece for the Colts. Even though Hines is a rookie, the coaching staff has already praised the 4th round pick for his ability to grasp playing all over the offense. That is how the Colts are going to use Hines. While he might not take the most reps strictly in the backfield, Hines could/should see a good amount of time on the field, lining up in a multitude of spots. From a touch standpoint, I would probably go in an order of Mack, Hines and Turbin right now.
- Jordan Wilkins: Right now, it’s hard to see Wilkins factoring into playing time in 2018. It’s pretty difficult to incorporate 4 running backs into a weekly game plan. Plus, Wilkins doesn’t have that one blue trait (like speed or power) where he can make a quick impact on a game. Maybe Wilkins starts off working mostly on special teams during his rookie season.
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