INDIANAPOLIS — Thurman Thomas. Franco Harris. Marcus Allen. Edgerrin James. Marshall Faulk. Jim Brown. Tony Dorsett.
Those seven names alone evoke images of some of the greatest players ever to step on a football field.
And, in 2016, Frank Gore put each of them in the rear-view mirror.
In a career that continues to defy the odds, Gore not only moved into the NFL's Top 8 all-time in rushing during the season, but he became the first player 33 or older to eclipse the coveted 1,000-yard rushing plateau since the Washington Redskins' John Riggins in 1984.
In fact, Gore's 1,025 yards in 2016 ranked 12th in the league, and gave the Colts their first 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Addai accomplished the feat in 2007.
Gore and No. 2 back Robert Turbin teamed up to form quite the formidable duo for the Colts in 2016, as Gore took on a majority of the carries on first and second down, while Turbin proved to be a force on third down, as well as in the passing game.
Here's a review of the play of the Colts' running backs in 2016:Frank the Tank
Although questions swirled around about his productivity heading into 2016 after a 3.7 yards-per-carry average the previous season, Gore, as usual, kept his mouth shut and kept working.
With another year behind him, the 33 year old actually had three more carries in 2016 than he did in the previous season, and, of course, played in all 16 games for a sixth straight season; his YPC average increased to 3.9.
Gore, in fact, actually had one of the more productive receiving seasons of his career in 2016, as he caught 38 passes for 277 yards (both his most since 2010) and a career-best 4 touchdowns. His 14 receptions for first downs were also the most since 2010.
He was also voted by the league's fellow players as the 2016 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award recipient.
Gore enters the 2017 season — his 13th in the NFL — having amassed 2,965 carries for 13,065 yards (eighth in NFL history) and 74 touchdowns. He also had 414 receptions for 3,427 yards and 16 scores.Turbo
Perhaps it's no surprise that Robert Turbin played the role of backup/short-yardage running back so well for the Colts in 2016.
He was, after all, Marshawn Lynch's No. 2 back as a Super Bowl champion with the Seattle Seahawks.
But seemingly every time the ball was in Turbin's hands, something good happened for the Colts, as he scored eight total touchdowns — seven on the ground and one via the pass — despite many, many fewer opportunities than others on the roster.
Taking a look at Turbin's stats throughout his career, including the 2016 season with the Colts, there's not a ton that immediately jumps out. In his five years in the NFL, Turbin has ran the ball 328 times for 1,291 yards (for a 3.9 yards-per-carry average) and caught 76 passes for 629 yards.
But his 2016 season proved that value goes way beyond the stat sheet. His eight total touchdowns were a career-high by far and tied Gore for the most on the team, and his 26 receptions were a career-best, topping his previous high of 19 catches his rookie year in 2012.
Turbin also proved extremely valuable as a pass protector, as his 85.1 grade as a pass-blocking running back, according to Pro Football Focus, was second in the league only to Jonathan Stewart's 85.3 grade:
Turbin is a free-agent-to-be this offseason, but one might imagine the Colts and new general manager Chris Ballard will take a good look into trying to get him re-signed.Other notes
The Colts kept four running backs on their roster throughout the 2016 season, though the last two guys — Jordan Todman and Josh Ferguson — were primarily used in special teams roles.
Both speedsters, Todman had nine carries for 59 yards in 2016, while the rookie Ferguson had 20 receptions for 136 yards and ran the ball 15 times for 20 yards.Number to remember
4: The number of receiving touchdowns Frank Gore had in the red zone in 2016, a figure that tied for second in the NFL — and tied for first in the AFC — among players at his position.
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