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INDIANAPOLIS – If you are making a list of the ‘nicest’ guys on the Colts, Nyheim Hines would be pretty high on that list…unless you use that phrase in describing his versatility.

When talking about the unique skillset of Hines, one better not label him a ‘gadget guy.’

“I’ve never been a gadget guy. I hate when people call me that,” Hines emphasizes. “I don’t think I’ve ever been that. I played running back my whole life and I’ve always been able to run the ball in between the tackles.

“Last year I think that was a step to that. Every year in the NFL, I’ve heard things about, ‘He’s a gadget guy, too little to run between the tackles.’ So I think last year was a good first step and now I’m looking to build on that because I hate when people call me a gadget guy. I’m a football player and that’s how I just see it.”

While Hines views that term as slighting his abilities, he is right in the step that he took as a runner last year.

Hines averaged just 3.7 and 3.8 yards per carry in his first two NFL seasons (compared to Marlon Mack’s 4.7 and 4.4 YPC).

If Hines was the lone running back on the field, defenses did not have to have the same respect for him as a runner.

But that changed last year.

Hines averaged 4.3 yards per carry, to go along with his receiving prowess (63 catches for 482 yards and 4 touchdowns).

We saw the big plays offensively that had been missing, to go along with his elite punt return ability.

“(Hines) is definitely a weapon, a guy you can trust in the backfield,” promoted offensive coordinator Marcus Brady says. “Even just hand the ball off, they always talk about getting him out of the backfield and getting him in space, but I mean he does a great job in between the tackles where he is able to get through there and then use his speed to create explosive plays for us.

“I’ve thought he’s just grown, his vision has grown, his patience has grown running through the holes. That just comes with experience and I’m looking forward to being able to utilize what he brings to our offense this year.”

Arguably the most impressive attribute to Hines now three years in the NFL has been his availability.

Not only has he played in all 48 games possible since being drafted in 2018 (1 of 4 NFL running backs to do that), Hines reminds you that he hasn’t missed a practice either.

That’s astonishing for an NFL running back, and a big reason why he deserves a second contract in Indy.

And while Hines hates that term mentioned earlier, his OC says it’s a compliment.

“I understand where he is coming from definitely, and he shouldn’t take it as a knock because he is not just a gadget player, but he does have that ability that brings problems to defenses,” Brady says.

“Some of the things he does, it does make it hard on defenses, but he is much more than that. He did a great job being under center and taking the ball on a handoff and running our inside zone, outside zone – those inside schemes, he’s grown in that area as well.”

No matter how the Colts view the workload needed for Jonathan Taylor, and even Marlon Mack, Hines affirmed last season that he needs to remain a big part of this offense.