Running Back Burning Questions Heading Into OTAs

Intro: Players return for work on Monday, April 17 with the start of the Colts offseason program. What are the burning questions at the running back position going into the 2017 offseason?

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INDIANAPOLIS –We are less than two weeks away from players flocking back to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for work.

The Colts will start their nine-week offseason program on Monday, April 17.

Over the next week and a half, Colts.com will take a look at the "Burning Questions" for all position groups going into the 2017 offseason.

Here's a look at the running back burning questions heading into the team's offseason program:

What should the expectations be for Frank Gore in his age 34 season?

When the Colts signed then 32-year-old Frank Gore back in 2015, Chris Ballard nodded in approval from afar.

Two years later, Ballard loves that Gore is on his roster. Gore enters the final year of his rookie contract coming off a 1,000-yard season, the first the Colts have had since 2007.

Another year goes by and Gore continues to be the epitome of durable.

Gore has started 92 straight games. The next longest active streak for an NFL running back is 21 games. That's insane.

On the other side of that stat, no running back in league history has ever started all 16 games at age 34 or older.

The Colts should, and will, continue to use Gore as their lead back. Only 12 players ran for 1,000 yards last year in the NFL, so Gore is still a top-level back.

But the Colts will certainly involve some other ball carriers behind their future Hall of Famer.

STAT TO NOTE: With 620 rushing yards in 2017, Gore will move into 5th on the NFL's all-time rushing list.

Is Robert Turbin's role going to increase in his second season with the Colts?

Robert Turbin wants a more expanded role in 2017.

And Chris Ballard believes Turbin has potential for more first and second down work as well.

With Gore another year older, and Turbin showing off his skills last season, using the latter more in 2017 could very well be in the works.

Turbin contributed in several ways last year. Short-yardage and third down were the two main areas the Colts found plenty of success in using Turbin.

Unless the Colts find a rookie draft pick who deserves ample reps, which could very well happen, Turbin should have the opportunity to spell Gore even more in 2017.

Do we see Turbin get chances to even start his own series or two within a game?

STAT TO NOTE: Turbin came into 2016 with three career touchdowns in four NFL seasons. He had eight total touchdowns with the Colts last year.When will the Colts draft a running back in 2017?

One of the great draft dilemmas: When to take a running back?

There's some strong evidence indicating that patience in taking a running back is the better method.

Of last year's top 10 runners in the NFL, only one (Ezekiel Elliott) was taken in the first 46 picks of the NFL Draft. Of the 12 playoff teams, only Dallas (with Elliott) started a first-round running back.

Jim Irsay stated at last week's League Meetings that finding a back in the "later rounds" is something the Colts would like to achieve when the draft arrives in three weeks.

Teams all throughout the league have found recent success in drafting later-round running backs and having them come in and make an impact from Day One.

This looks to be the route the Colts want to go in 2017.

For example, a fourth-round running back (the Colts have three picks in Round Four) can come in and contribute as a rookie, while also learning behind Frank Gore, who is in the final year of his contract.

STAT TO NOTE: The last time the Colts drafted a running back before Round Five was 2009, when they drafted Donald Brown in Round One (Pick No. 27 overall).

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.*

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