Running Back Burning Questions Heading Into 2016 Training Camp

Intro: We are less than two weeks away from the Colts heading to Anderson for the start of Training Camp. What are the “Burning Questions” at the running back position this season?

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INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts will be relying on the second oldest running back in the NFL this season.

Frank Gore didn't show his age last season. Gore fell just yards short of ending long individual running droughts the Colts have had dating back almost a decade.

In 2016, the 33-year-old Gore is the definite starter for a second season in Indy.

Our "Burning Questions" series is once again back this time of year with the season less than a month away.

With Training Camp rapidly nearing, we take a look at the running back questions for Anderson:

  • What will the changes along the offensive line do for Frank Gore and the running game?

Debating if Frank Gore still has it at 33 years old is a worthless argument.

Gore is a rare, rare breed when it comes to NFL running backs.

With all the troubles and inconsistencies the Colts' offense faced in 2016, there was Gore for 16 games, rushing for 967 yards.

This has been written before, but is worth repeating again:

Andrew Luck missed nine games last season. Without Luck in the lineup, Gore's yards per carry went from 4.1 to 3.5.

Anthony Castonzo missed three contests last year. Without Castonzo in the lineup, Gore's yards per carry went from 3.9 to 2.7.

When the Colts were without two of their best offensive pieces, opponents could load the box against a beaten up unit.

Despite that, Gore still fell just short of becoming the first Colts' player to reach 1,000 yards since 2007.

Looking ahead to 2016, Gore should be running behind an improved offensive line.

Include the speedy weapons in the passing game potentially keeping safeties from creeping down in the box, and Gore could be on the verge to ending several Colts' rushing records in 2016.

STAT TO NOTE: Frank Gore had the third most rushing yards (967) in the AFC last season.**

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  • How will the reps shake out behind Frank Gore?

With Gore easing his way back into things during the 2016 offseason program, we saw newcomers Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman receive plenty of first-team run.

Those two are the clear favorites for the action behind Gore.

Last year, the Colts never found a consistent backup at the running back position.

They head into 2016 with a pair of guys who have filled that role quite effectively in previous spots.

While Gore won't want to be limited in a pitch count of way, the Colts have that luxury thanks to Turbin and Todman.

Both of those guys are threats out of the backfield, too.

The astonishing durability of Gore still doesn't mean the Colts could overlook the backup running back position this past free agency.

Jim Irsay has said that the Colts need to "manage" the reps for Gore.

They've addressed that with two backs who have contributed on recent playoff teams.

STAT TO NOTE: Frank Gore is one of 11 players in NFL history to have at least eight 1,000-yard seasons.

  • What does the future look like at the running back position?

His name just keeps on popping up this offseason.

Undrafted jitterbug running back Josh Ferguson is going to be a player to watch in Anderson.

At the end of June, Jim Irsay was asked about the future of the Colts' offense. Irsay said Ferguson had a chance to be "special."

That's high praise for an undrafted player.

Ferguson does bring traits that the Colts have longed for at the running back position. Elusiveness and short space quickness in the running game (and via the pass) is what Ferguson has in his game.

Now, as the Colts eventually look ahead to post-life without Gore (he's under contract through 2017), the option(s) might not necessarily be on the roster.

Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman are on one-year deals.

The early returns on the 2017 Draft Class does show a pretty strong contingent of ball carriers.

STAT TO NOTE: Josh Ferguson, who went to Illinois, finished 2015 as the only active FBS player with at least 2,500 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards.

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