One of the most intriguing camp battles for the Indianapolis Colts has already reached a verdict, at least according to coach Frank Freich. Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor were both vying for the starting running back job, Reich already made a decision on which back will open the year as the No. 1 -- again -- at least for Week 1.
"Marlon's a starter," Reich said in a conference call with reporters, via the Colts website. "Marlon's earned it. He's had a couple of really good years for us. But we're going to continue to take the same approach that we have, where it's week in and week out, hot hand, all those things."
Mack rushed for 1,000 yards for Indianapolis last season, finishing 11th in the league while averaging 4.4 yards per carry. While the Colts will utilize Mack, the door is open for Taylor to take some of those touches. Taylor finished with 926 carries in his three years at Wisconsin, rushing for 6,124 yards and 50 touchdowns (6.7 yards per carry). Splitting carries is nothing new for Taylor, who had just 49.3% of the carries in his freshman season for the Badgers. That percentage increased to 58% in his sophomore year and 59.8% in his junior year.
The Colts ran the ball 29.4 times per game in 2019, which was fourth-most in the NFL. Mack's 247 carries ranked eighth in the league and Indianapolis called running plays 46.36% of the time, fifth-most in the league. There will be plenty of opportunities for both Mack and Taylor to contribute on the offense.
"We're expecting a big year from all our backs, but in particular, Marlon, he looks good," Reich said. "So (I) just feel good about how the backs complement each other. I really do. I feel like that's a strong room for us.
"I feel like those guys are very unselfish and they're in it for each other. And so Marlon needs to be a leader the way he plays, and we expect him to do that."