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Running Back Burning Questions Heading Into OTAs

Intro: The Colts will have virtually an entirely new look running back group when players report back to work on April 20. What’s in store at the running back position group heading into the Colts offseason program?





INDIANAPOLIS – Gone are the Colts top two ball carriers from 2014.

Entering is a perennial 1,000-yard running back and more help could be on the way.

Here's a look at the running back burning questions heading into the Colts offseason program.

  • What exactly will Frank Gore's role be in 2015?

In each of Andrew Luck's first three seasons he really hasn't had a No. 1 back for more than about 10 games of a season.

Is Gore that guy in 2015?

The Colts have made it clear, for this offense to truly (consistently) thrive, a more than adequate run game is needed.

Gore can be the lead man in that running attack.

While the Colts won't need Gore to rack up carrying the ball upwards of 250 times, just an average season from the 10-year pro (by Gore's standards) would be the best from a Colts running back in a decade.

In the last four years, Gore's season-high for receptions is just 28 so he could be primarily used on early downs.

The Colts have stated that Gore is capable of being a three-down back but at the age of 32, employing a couple of backs in an offensive game plan would be in the offense's best interest.

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 (2011-2014)

Games Played

Rush Attempts

Rushing Yards

Yards Per Carry


16 (15 starts)





16 (16 starts)





16 (16 starts)





16 (16 starts)




  • What do the Colts have behind Frank Gore?

It's inevitable that the Colts are going to have to rely on a back not named Frank Gore at some point in 2015.

Let's start with who's on the roster.

Boom Herron's value from Anderson last year to the postseason was about as big of a jump any player made on the roster in 2014.

He warrants reps in the backfield this season and can definitely provide a change of pace from Gore's skill set.

If Herron improves his pass blocking, could he be a guy the Colts use on third-downs after his torrid postseason catching the ball out of the backfield?

Behind Herron is Vick Ballard coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries.

Any specific expectations for Ballard in 2015 would be unfair. He showed plenty of promise in his rookie campaign of 2012 (811 rushing yards in starting 11 games) but the Colts need a healthy offseason from Ballard before he can be truly evaluated.

Zurlon Tipton (who will compete for a running back roster spot after being the backup late in last year) and Jeff Demps (an Olympic-type sprinter, who spent time on the Colts practice squad in 2014) round out the current Colts running back group.

STAT TO NOTE: Herron's 20 postseason receptions last year is the fourth most for a single postseason in franchise history.**


  • Is a running back coming in the 2015 draft?

It would be a surprise if the Colts did not add one more running back this offseason.

Past Colts history at the running back position serves as a harsh reminder of how many backs are usually needed to last an entire season.

Whether the Colts are thinking short-term or long-term, a ball carrier taken in the draft would be an ideal option.

The 2015 draft class is littered with capable ball carriers and recent trends in the NFL have shown that rookie backs, not necessarily taken too early in the draft, can come in and make an early impact.

If the Colts can find a draftable back in the first three or four rounds, I think that will balance out the running back position and give the Colts an abundance of quality depth throughout the skill groups.

STAT TO NOTE: Since 2006, the Colts have taken a running back in the first round twice (2006-Joesph Addai, 2009-Donald Brown).

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