INDIANAPOLIS – Technically, Robert Turbin is not a starter for the Indianapolis Colts.
He wasn't in 2016. And, barring injury, won't be in 2017.
But calling Turbin a "backup" probably isn't fair either.
What Turbin gave the Colts in 2016, and will try to give them in 2017, was much more than a guy entering the lineup to give Gore a rest.
When Turbin went into the huddle, the Colts didn't have to condense their playbook or alter their game plan.
Turbin is what NFL teams need nowadays, a more than capable No. 2 running back who has the ability to be an every down guy.
The ambitious Turbin, 27, still has serious goals to achieve in his NFL career entering year No. 6.
"One of these days I'd like to be a starter," Turbin says. "One of these days I'd like to lead the league in rushing or touchdowns and do great things. And I believe I can accomplish those goals. I really do.
"It's all about patience and timing and like I mentioned earlier continuing to get better and learning about the game every single year to put myself in a position to learn those things."
Like fellow re-signings Jack Doyle and Darius Butler this offseason, Turbin was a pro's pro with his play in 2017.
But Turbin wants more.
In 15 games last year, Turbin had 47 carries for 164 yards and 26 catches for 179 yards. He averaged a little less than five touches per game, but did have a career-high eight touchdowns.
"I want to expand my role and become more than just a red zone, or third down, or short yardage back," Turbin says. "I think being versatile in this league is very important. As a running back, the more you can do in catching the ball out of the backfield and being an every down back, really helps a football team. It takes a lot of pressure off your quarterback and your defense, when you have a back like that."
The Colts have two of those backs in Gore and Turbin.
A more expansive role for Turbin could be in the mix.
Gore turns 34 years old in May. No NFL running back age 34 or older has ever started all 16 games in a season. Even the incredibly durable Gore could need more of a rest during games this fall.
If so, Turbin will be more than ready.
"My goal (last season) was to contribute to this team in the best way I could," Turbin says of his first season with the Colts. Whether it was with 15 carries a game or 6, or play special teams and buy in. If those were the kind of things that were going to help us win, then that's what I wanted to do.
"I give a lot of credit to Frank. Without him and his mentorship, there's a lot of things that I don't do, that I did last season. He's an incredible leader. We had a great coach, a great offensive coordinator, who really taught me some things about the game that I didn't know as well. That's what is great about this game and this league. There's always something you can learn to get better. I've always focused solely on getting better."
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