INDIANAPOLIS – Have the Colts finally found their workhorse in the backfield?
Over the next week and a half, Colts.com will take a look at the "Burning Questions" surrounding all position groups entering 2015.
Here's a look at the running back burning questions heading into the team's 2015 Training Camp:
What's in store for Frank Gore's 11th NFL season?
Frank Gore's stat line last season reads as such: 255 carries, 1,106 rushing yards.
At the age of 31, Gore piled up numbers that the Colts haven't seen in nearly a decade.
To be exact, it's been seven seasons since a Colts back toted the rock at least 255 times (Joseph Addai in 2007) and nine seasons since someone reached 1,100 yards (Edgerrin James in 2005).
The questions for me are this: Can Gore equate a similar output in Indianapolis? And do the Colts need him to?
Over the last two seasons, Colts running backs not named "Trent Richardson" all averaged 4.5 yards per carry (Ahmad Bradshaw: 2013, 2014, Donald Brown: 2013 and Boom Herron: 2014).
That should bode well for Gore as he enters an offense that is going to look across at defenses in 2015 and likely see fewer defenders near the line of scrimmages, compared to life in San Francisco.
Colts opponents in 2015 know the potent playmakers that are in the passing game.
The domino effect of that brings a smile to the face of Gore.
Now, the Colts might not necessarily need Gore to reach those marks he's used to.
They want plenty of tread on those tires come January and beyond, so Gore's workload doesn't have to reach the 250-1,100 type numbers to call the 2015 a success.
STAT TO NOTE: Over the last four years, Gore is just one of two NFL running backs who has played in 64 consecutive games.
Frank Gore's Stats
Yards Per Carry
16 (15 starts)
16 (16 starts)
16 (16 starts)
16 (16 starts)
Who will spell Gore in 2015 and receive the third-down snaps?
How Gore's reps fluctuate over the course of the season will largely depend on what the Colts have behind the 10-year vet at the running back position.
Boom Herron made the most of his opportunity last season.
His ability to impact the passing game out of the backfield, makes him a certain option if the Colts want to turn to him on third downs.
In years past, the Colts have typically employed two backs in some sort of a rotational, series-to-series, basis.
Gore's presence though might not lead to that method in 2015.
However, I do expect Herron to still play a good amount as the lead guy spelling Gore.
After Herron, guys like Vick Ballard (see below), the bowling ball rookie in Josh Robinson, and Zurlon Tipton will have their chances to prove they belong come Training Camp.
STAT TO NOTE: Herron's 20 postseason receptions last year is the fourth most for a single postseason in franchise history.**
A look at the running backs heading to the Colts 2015 Training Camp.
What might the 2015 season look like for Vick Ballard?**
No player on the Colts roster deserves a healthy Training Camp more so than Vick Ballard.
Back-to-back season-ending (non-contact) injuries have question marks surrounding the fourth-year running back.
Ballard's Achilles injury from last season occurred in the early stages of Training Camp, placing him on injured reserve for a second straight year.
He felt like he could participate during the Colts spring offseason program, but held back, and will now make his 2015 debut in Anderson.
If healthy, Ballard could definitely challenge for carries/playing time right behind Frank Gore.
In his rookie season of 2012, Ballard entered the starting lineup in Game Five of the season, and coincidentally the team took off from there.
Ryan Grigson talked earlier this offseason about the core values Ballard possesses as a runner, and also within the Colts locker room, too.
Of all the offseason additions the Colts had in 2015, Ballard (in his own unique way) might find his way into being a productive weapon, provided the injury bug doesn't bite.
STAT TO NOTE: In his rookie season of 2012, Ballard was the Colts leading rusher with 211 carries and 814 yards. He started 12 games as a fifth-round pick that season.
*2015 Running Backs (7): Vick Ballard (4th year), Frank Gore (11th year), Boom Herron (3rd year), Josh Robinson (Rookie), Zurlon Tipton (2nd year), Abou Toure (Rookie), Tyler Varga (Rookie).Roster Outlook: Last year, the Colts kept four running backs on their 53-man roster after the preseason. When it came to the regular season though, three was the number of running backs on the 53-man roster. The number three/four is the likely option for the running back group again in 2015. Gore and Herron figure to be locks. After that, it will be an intense battle to complete the rest of the group with health questions factoring in for Ballard.*