Who Can Emerge as the Colts Starting Running Backs this Season?

Colts running back Marlon Mack (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Colts running back Marlon Mack (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

With the departure of Frank Gore, the Indianapolis Colts now have an opening for a new starting running back. Marlon Mack, a 2017 fourth-round pick, is currently listed first on the depth chart and got the nod for the start in the Colts first preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Mack was less than impressive in a small sample size against the Seahawks carrying the ball four times for just nine yards. He also added two catches for twenty-three yards before having to exit the game with a hamstring injury and is now listed as week to week.

In Mack’s rookie season last year, he played in fourteen games as the back up to veteran Frank Gore. Over the course of the season, he accumulated 358 yards and three touchdowns averaging 3.8 yards per carry. Although he had rather pedestrian numbers his rookie season, he showed flashes of explosiveness and big-play ability, and also showed he can contribute in the passing game by adding twenty-one receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown to his rookie season.

After Mack on the depth chart is veteran running back Robert Turbin. Many people may remember Turbin’s 2016 campaign with the Colts in which he recorded eight total touchdowns on just seventy-three touches. However, he missed the majority of the 2017 season due to injury.

Turbin was the leading the rusher for the Colts in the preseason opener after recording twenty-seven yards on six carries and adding two receptions for eighteen yards as well. Turbin will look to be a valuable contributor to the Colts offense in 2018 but will have to wait out a four-game suspension to do so. In late June it was announced that he had tested positive for a substance banned by the NFL.

After Mack and Turbin on the depth chart are rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Hines, a fourth-round pick out of N.C. State, recorded a 4.38 40 yard dash at the combine and carried the ball three times for seven yards in the preseason opener against the Seahawks.

Wilkins, a fifth-round pick out of Ole Miss, had the second most touches out of any Colts running back against the Seahawks. Wilkins ran the ball six times for 21 yards and added one reception for seven yards as well.

Additionally, the Colts also have veteran running backs Branden Oliver and Christine Michael fighting for spots on the roster, as well as third-year man Josh Ferguson.

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With a lot of question marks still surrounding the backfield expect a lot of guys to get looks until someone can establish themselves as the premier guy. The improved passing game with Andrew Luck coming back and the improved offensive line with the addition of Quenton Nelson should also help the Colts run game that has seen just one 1,000 yard rusher in the past 10 seasons.