Mack played through a torn labrum for most of his rookie season, then had surgery in the offseason. His absence from OTAs and minicamp was expected, with Colts general manager Chris Ballard saying in early May that the second-year back should be ready for training camp. Mack's availability for the start of camp doesn't seem like a sure thing, and any missed time could help Robert Turbin, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins push for significant roles. Mack is still the favorite for the lead job, but it's a situation that will require close monitoring in the coming months.
Colts general manger Chris Ballard revealed Tuesday that Mack played through a torn labrum in his shoulder as a rookie and underwent surgery during the offseason, Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio reports.
Ballard said Mack should be a full participant at the start of training camp, where he'll likely be the favorite for the lead role in a backfield that includes veterans Robert Turbin, Christine Michael and Josh Ferguson, along with rookies Nyheim Hines (fourth round) and Jordan Wilkins (fifth round). The Colts' decision to pass on running backs in the early rounds of the 2018 draft can be taken as a sign that the team isn't too worried about Mack's shoulder. The 2017 third-round pick was inconsistent yet promising while stuck behind Frank Gore last season, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry despite ripping off six gains of 20 or more yards among his 93 totes. New head coach Frank Reich recently mentioned that he'd be comfortable using a committee approach in the backfield.
While Mack would appear to be the clear starter at running back after the Colts failed to select a running back early in the draft, head coach Frank Reich said he's open to utilizing multiple backs, the Indianapolis Star reports. "I'm very comfortable with the running back-by-committee," said Reich. "I'm very comfortable with (competition)."
Indianapolis selected two running backs in the draft with Nyhelm Hines taken in the fourth round and Jordan Wilkins taken in the fifth round. Mack should be the clear leader for the starting job and Indy's lack of signing a veteran free agent or spending a high draft pick on a running back is good news for his fantasy value and we may not want to read too much into Reich's statement. Still, Mack will need to prove he can be the starter and get the bulk of playing time in training camp.
A fourth-round pick, Mack was feast or famine in his backup role as a rookie, averaging only 3.8 yards per carry despite taking six of his 93 totes for 20 yards or more. For context, fellow rookie Aaron Jones was the only player with a higher percentage of carries going for 20-plus yards (min. 50 attempts) and he averaged 5.5 per carry. Mack displayed a similar mixture of potential and inconsistency when the Colts threw the ball, impressively averaging 10.7 yards on 21 receptions but struggling with his pass blocking and catch rate (63.6 percent). He's left atop the depth chart after Frank Gore signed with the Dolphins, though the Colts likely will add competition during the upcoming NFL Draft. Mack's pass blocking will of particular importance, as the Colts don't want Andrew Luck (shoulder) to take the kind of beating Jacoby Brissett was subjected to last year. Their current group of running backs may be the league's worst, with Mack joined by Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Josh Ferguson, Matt Jones and George Winn.
Mack had seven carries for 28 yards, including a one-yard touchdown, in Sunday's win over Houston.
The Colts stuck with Frank Gore as the primary ball carrier all season even though at age 34 he's unlikely to return next season and Mack could be the future starter. Mack had 358 yards rushing and four total touchdowns in his rookie season. He had just a 3.8 YPC, but showed explosiveness and could be poised to become the starter if Gore doesn't return.
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