Advertisement

Colts Coverage

Blog > Kevin's Corner > Colts Coverage > Running Back Burning Questions Heading Into Colts Training Camp

Running Back Burning Questions Heading Into Colts Training Camp

We are less than a month away from the Colts starting the 2018 Training Camp. In starting a burning question series, it’s time to look at the running backs.

Andy Lyons | Getty Images


INDIANAPOLIS – All the questions the Colts face heading into their 2018 Training Camp will see answers develop in front of fans at Grand Park.

On Wednesday, July 25, the Colts will report to work in Westfield for three and a half weeks, with a joint practice session against the Baltimore Ravens concluding things on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Over the next week and a half, 1070TheFan.com will take a look at the “Burning Questions” for all position groups heading into the 2018 Training Camp.

Here’s a look at the running back burning questions with Training Camp nearing:

-Will there be a ‘bell cow’ back for the Colts in 2018?

No.

“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.”

Over the last 3 years, Frank Gore was the Colts’ starting running back and carried the ball 260, 263 and 261 times.

Don’t expect any running back in Indianapolis to sniff that amount in 2018.

Right now, it looks like the Colts could use a trio of Robert Turbin (pending suspension), Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines from a running back by committee standpoint.

It will be interesting to see how the Colts decide to employ their runners late in games, whether the scenario calls for more ground and pound with the lead (Turbin?) vs. looking for a late score (Mack?).

STAT TO NOTE: Before Frank Gore, the last Colts player to start at running back was Boom Herron during the 2014 season.

-Is Marlon Mack ready to be a three-down running back?

Off-season shoulder surgery kept Mack off the field this spring.

When watching last year’s rookie film of Mack, new running backs coach Tom Rathman came away impressed by the toughness shown by the 2017 fourth-round pick, knowing he was playing through a torn labrum.

There were more flashes of Mack being a physical player as the ’17 campaign went along.

But it still is a bit early to definitely crown Mack a three-down back at the NFL level.

For that to happen, Mack has to clean up his pass blocking and must become a more willing in-between the tackle runner.

If Mack can show that, then the Colts have a blossoming lead back, with Robert Turbin and Nyheim Hines offering specific roles that are necessary over the course of a 60-minute game.

STAT TO NOTE: Marlon Mack tied for the team lead with 4 touchdowns last season.

-How will the Colts use rookie Nyheim Hines in 2018?

That will be a question the Colts will ask themselves each week this coming season.

In return, it’s a question opposing defenses will have to guess on in trying to stop the big play rookie.

“It’s hard to understand defensively in my mind how you are going to play him,” offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni says. “He reminds me of a Dexter McCluster (who Sirianni was with in Kansas City) type. Teams didn’t know what he was each week. Is he playing wide receiver? Is he playing running back? What is he? How do I defend him?

“All of a sudden you’re on the offensive and they’re on the defensive. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.”

Hines was an effective slot receiver during his first couple of seasons at N.C. State, before rushing for 1,000 yards this last season.

In Hines, the Colts have the fastest running back from this year’s Combine and a guy that Frank Reich is going to involve in multiple personnel groupings.

Touches need to be coming for Hines in 2018 as the Colts try to bolster their playmaking in the ‘non-T.Y. Hilton’ division.

STAT TO NOTE: Nyheim Hines had touchdowns of 83, 53, 50 and 48 yards last season at North Carolina State.

-Bonus Question: Is Robert Turbin in jeopardy of not making the roster?

I think there’s a chance, as Turbin will be suspended for the first four games of 2018.

The best thing Turbin has going for him is he’s really the lone proven veteran in a room full of youngsters.

With Frank Gore now in Miami, Turbin gives the Colts such an important running back, who has been there, done that, before.

On a 3rd-and-short, Turbin gets that yard.

On a 3rd-and-7, Turbin can stand up a linebacker and give his quarterback enough time to extend the drive.

But Turbin has a ceiling, and that has shrunk even more with his suspension.

If the Colts can feel confident about receiving contributions from the likes of Jordan Wilkins (rookie), Christine Michael or Josh Ferguson, then Turbin might be sweating it out come roster cuts.

And if one or two of those guys makes a nice impression early in the season, Turbin might no longer be seen as necessary for the Colts.

At the age of 28, Turbin is in a contract year. He is due $1.1 million in his 3rd season with the Colts.

STAT TO NOTE: Nyheim Hines had touchdowns of 83, 53, 50 and 48 yards last season at North Carolina State.

 

ICYMI: Quarterback Burning Questions

 

This week, mailbag readers inquire about the 2019 NFL Draft, playing time for new wide receiver Marcus Johnson and if Quincy Wilson/Tarell Basham have hit their ceiling.
The first road trip of 2018 has the Colts (1-1) staying in the NFC East for another Sunday 1:00 PM kickoff. What are seven things to watch for as the Colts take on the Eagles (1-1) in Week Three of the 2018 regular season?
The Colts had some big names on the injury list in Week Three against the Eagles. What does the final injury report of the week look like before heading to Philadelphia?
Through two weeks, no NFL team has been better on third down than the Indianapolis Colts. Why have they had so much success?
The Colts were a banged up football team at Thursday’s practice. What was learned from the Colts’ second practice of the week?