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Jets Game An Opportunity For Colts To Break Out In The Run Game

The Indianapolis Colts are hoping today's game against the New York Jets will be an opportunity to get their run game going. Will Marlon Mack and Anthony Catonzo's potential returns provide a boost?


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Twenty-eight percent.

That's the amount of time the Indianapolis Colts have spent on offense running the ball this season.

They have taken the field for 256 passing plays compared to just 101 carries, but the ingredients are there for the chasm to be overturned this Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets.

The biggest reason for the discrepancy in play types is that the Colts have faced large deficits in recent games, which causes them to have to focus more on passing so that they can get back into the game quicker.

It's not been so much that they can't run the ball; it's just that it's been removed as an option at times.

However, this week the Colts could get two starters back in the lineup who should give a shot in the arm to the run game immensely: left tackle Anthony Castonzo and running back Marlon Mack.

Both players missed the majority of the summer up until now nursing hamstring injuries. Castonzo reported to training camp on July 25 with his injury, and a couple of setbacks have kept him out of game action the entire season.

Mack injured his hamstring during the team's first preseason game on Aug. 9 and since has only played in the Colts' Week 2 win over the Washington Redskins — a game in which he re-aggravated the injury.

"I think it will be a good boost and yeah, they should be ready to go barring any crazy thing happening," Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters on Friday. "But they will be ready to go. It should be a good boost. Obviously, two really good players — looking forward to getting them back in the starting lineup."

Because each player had setbacks along the way, the team has been patient and cautious in bringing them back, and it looks like the time for their return is finally here.

"Yeah, I mean they definitely made sure that I was good to go. I really appreciate what the team and the training staff did. Nobody really pushed me to come back before I was ready so I definitely feel ready to go right now," Castonzo said this week.

"Yeah, it's definitely been a long time coming. I haven't played a lot of football in a long time. I'm definitely excited to get out there on a game field."

Mack's potential return to the lineup gives the Colts more explosion coming out of the backfield. As a rookie, he showed that his game revolves around chunk plays.

Among his 114 touches as a rookie, 22 of them went for at least 10 yards. Of those 22 plays, 12 of them went for at least 15 yards, 10 went for at least 20 yards and two for at least 30 yards. He was a threat to take the ball to the second level every single time he touched the ball.

The Jets — this week's opponent — have surrendered the most 20-yard rushing plays in the league so far with seven. They also rank in the middle of the pack against the run overall, allowing 105 yards per game.

Another possible factor who could positively influence the Colts' run game is Robert Turbin, who returned from a four-game suspension last week against the New England Patriots, but saw just nine snaps. This week, he'll have an entire week of practice under his belt, so his role could expand.

"Yeah, Marlon obviously is our number one back and Turbin is a proven vet who has been very productive. Everybody helps," Reich said. "It's not that we don't have confidence in the guys that have been in there, but certainly, Marlon is the number one back for a reason."

Even with Frank Gore and Mack in the backfield during the last two seasons, Turbin had a big role in the Colts' backfield, performing some of the most important duties.

"Turb's a real good pro. He's really a three-down back. I feel comfortable putting him in there on any down. He's a good proven runner," Reich said. "He's good in situational football. He's been really good on third down. Really knows the protection scheme well, really good pass protector. Feel he has good hands, so we're confident in him."

With Mack and Turbin in the backfield, the Colts have a very diverse group of backs that, as a group, can get anything done that a running back would need to do.

Mack and Jordan Wilkins are more early-down types who can find the crease and pick up yards inside and out. Nyheim Hines has proven to be a threat catching the ball, but he also has plenty of quickness to pick up yardage on the ground. Turbin has been one of the league's best short-yardage, pass blocking and overall third-down backs in his time with the Colts.

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