The Indianapolis Colts are heading into the 2017 training camp with 6 running backs on the current 90 man roster. They also have one of the oldest running backs in the NFL, coming off of a 1000 yard season, and within reach of the top 4 all time NFL rushing leader spot (Check out our article on Frank Gore striving for history here)
The current rb depth chart as I see it:
- Frank Gore
- Robert Turbin
- Marlon Mack
- Josh Ferguson
- Troymaine Pope
- Dalton Crossan
This much we know: typically, the Colts take 3 running backs to the active roster, or 4 if one is a good special teams player. So it is safe to assume that Frank Gore is a lock for the active roster, and I would call Marlon Mack (a 4th round draft pick), a virtual lock.
Robert Turbin would seem to be in line for the other spot after having a fantastic season last year, scoring 7 touchdowns and being a key guy in short yardage situations. I see him having a strong hold on that short yardage and goal line to go role unless one of the young undrafted guys shows him up in training camp.
So that is going to leave us with 3 guys battling out for 1 final spot.
Ferguson was with the Colts last season, and was probably the most impressive young guy in all of the spring practices and training camp. He would have been an ALL Anderson team member (If that existed), however it never translated into games for him. He never fully understood the blocking schemes, had several drops, and just seemed lost when the Colts were looking for a 3rd down running back. Eventually Turbin took all of the touches from him late in the year, and Ferguson was demoted. If Josh has worked on some of those troubles that gave him fits last year, he could still find a role on the team in special teams and occasionally 3rd and long roles, depending on how well Marlon Mack works out.
Dalton Crossan is an undrafted rookie out of New Hampshire College. He had an impressive senior season last year, actually finishing 6th all time in school rushing yards for a season, and 10 scores. Crossan is a bit tall and lanky for a runningback, and would need to pack on some weight. Crossan has good open field skills, running a 4.46 40 time, which translated into a kick return touchdown last season. Look for Crossan to get a shot returning kicks in preseason, and that giving him a chance to find the field.
Pope is a 2nd year pro out of Jacksonville State, who spent last season with Seattle Seahawks. Pope is an absolute speedster who can leave players in the dust if he finds a hole. However, finding that hole is the issue for Pope as sometimes he hesitates and lacks the decisiveness to simply put his head down and go. Don’t be surprised to see Pope running away from defenders in the preseason, providing excitement and busting off long runs. However, don’t be surprised also if Pope gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage because he was dancing and waiting for a hole to open, or lacking the vision to see the hole develop and burst through before it is filled.
We will have an article on the impact Marlon Mack can have on the Colts season coming up. As a 4th round draft pick, he is going to get plenty of opportunity this preseason for touches, and I think he will really wow fans with his abilities from day 1. Stay tuned for that one.
I wouldn’t call it a lot of competition, as the top 3 spots are probably under control by Gore, Mack, and Turbin. However, 3 guy fighting for 1 spot this preseason should provide for some excitement in the middle of the preseason games and throughout camp.
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