Wilkins will start at running back Sunday against the Bengals with Marlon Mack (hamstring) inactive, George Bremer of The Anderson Herald Bulletin reports.
With Mack's hamstring still presenting issues for him as he warmed up, the Colts elected to rule him out for the opener, paving the way for Wilkins to fill a vital role right away in his NFL regular-season debut. Wilkins, a fifth-round pick out of Mississippi, didn't provide much noteworthy production in the preseason, but his draft status along with the underwhelming performances of Nyheim Hines and Christine Michael were likely enough to position the rookie for the start. It's still likely that head coach Frank Reich to take a committee approach to the backfield to some extent, so Wilkins won't be guaranteed an overwhelming share of the touches.
Wilkins carried 14 times for 28 yards and caught both of his targets for an additional 33 yards during Saturday's 23-17 win over the 49ers.
Wilkins started alongside the first team offense, and although he produced a lackluster two yards per carry, he wound up leading the team in touches, rushing yards and scrimmage yards on the day. The likes of Nyheim Hines and Christine Michael combined for just nine yards on 13 carries, though Michael scored a short touchdown in the third quarter. With Marlon Mack (hamstring) still ailing, Wilkins seems like the leader in the clubhouse to lead the backfield in touches if the former isn't ready to participate in Week 1 of the regular season.
With Marlon Mack sidelined with a hamstring injury and Robert Turbin sidelined with an ankle injury, Wilkins has an opportunity to showcase his talents in the next two preseason games. It's possible he could figure early into the regular season mix if Mack is sidelined past the preseason and with Turbin set to miss the first four games due to a suspension. However, Michael and Hines could still figure into the mix, Hines especially on passing downs.
Wilkins has been mixing in with the starting offense at training camp, Kevin Bowen of 1070 The Fan reports.
Wilkins didn't seem like an NFL prospect at this time a year ago, but he worked his way into the fifth round of April's draft with a breakout senior season at Ole Miss, taking 155 carries for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns while adding 26 catches for 241 yards and another score. He was fortunate to land with a Colts team that lacks a proven starter at running back -- a situation that's allowed Wilkins, Nyheim Hines and Robert Turbin (suspension) to mix in with the starting offense. Marlon Mack has been getting most of the first-team reps and remains the favorite for the Week 1 starting job, but Wilkins still has plenty of time to make his case for a role in what figures to be a committee backfield. Mack and Wilkins actually have a lot in common in terms of body type and running style, whereas Hines profiles as an undersized passing-down back and Turbin has mostly made his living as a short-yardage/goal-line specialist.
|3||9/23/18||@ PHI||1:00 pm|
|5||10/4/18||@ NE||8:20 pm|
|6||10/14/18||@ NYJ||1:00 pm|
|8||10/28/18||@ OAK||4:05 pm|
|Bye: Week 9|
|13||12/2/18||@ JAC||1:00 pm|
|14||12/9/18||@ HOU||1:00 pm|
|17||12/30/18||@ TEN||1:00 pm|