INDIANAPOLIS — What's the "one huge question" remaining for the Indianapolis Colts for the rest of the summer?
Well, to be clear, the main focus obviously remains on quarterback Andrew Luck, who is yet to get back to throwing the football after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder in January. Luck, who didn't participate in Tuesday's minicamp practice, hopes to be back on the field by the start of training camp.
But when talking non-Luck-related topics, what comes to mind for the Colts?
For NFL Media analyst Elliot Harrison, a potentially exciting rookie running back — and how he carves out his role — should be a huge storyline the next couple months.
Harrison wrote a piece in which he provided a single issue/question/concern for all 32 NFL teams to ponder until training camp, and here's what he wrote about Indy:
Indianapolis Colts: When will Marlon Mack be ready to contribute?
This question might seem unusual, given that Mack was a late fourth-round pick and the Colts have other issues. But if offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski can get the rookie running back up to speed early -- particularly in the passing game -- then both Andrew Luck and the Colts' leaky defense will benefit. The rushing attack was 23rd last season. And as much as Chud loves Frank Gore, the veteran is really veteran. This will be Year 13 for Gore, who can't be expected to carry the load by himself again. Remarkably, Gore rushed for 1,025 yards last season while catching 38 passes. He's a pro's pro, but probably should only carry the ball 200 times. If 2016 fifth-rounder Jordan Howard could put up 1,313 yard for the Bears as a rookie, why can't Mack play right away?
Now Harrison, obviously, isn't the only one intrigued by what Mack could potentially being to the Colts' offense. Pro Football Focus' Michael Manning recently wrote a piece about how the South Florida product and his explosiveness "could provide a new wrinkle to the Colts’ offense."
What Mack showed in college was that he has a knack for the big play; according to PFF, Mack had a "breakaway percentage" (rushing yards earned on plays of 15 yards or more) of 52.3 percent, which ranked No. 5 last season among all NCAA running backs.
And, while we're on it, Harrison also isn't the first to compare Mack's opportunity to that of the Bears' Howard, who entered his rookie season last year near the bottom of the depth chart, but ended up finishing second in the league in rushing yards; Around The NFL's Conor Orr mentioned that comparison in his list of "third-day picks who can make an immediate impact."
So there is plenty of reason to be excited about Mack and what he could bring to the Colts' already-potent offense.
But one might believe that there is another major contributor constantly being overlooked this offseason at the running back position: Robert Turbin.
Turbin consistently showed his value for the Colts last season, his first in Indy, by being productive in short-yardage and goal-line situations — both with the ball in his hands and as a blocker. In all, the sixth-year Utah State product had eight total touchdowns in 2016 — seven on the ground and one via the pass.
Now, Turbin doesn't have the flashy stats some might desire or write about; in his five years in the NFL, Turbin has ran the ball 328 times for 1,291 yards (for a 3.9 yards-per-carry average) and caught 76 passes for 629 yards.
But his 2016 season proved that value goes way beyond the stat sheet. His eight total touchdowns were a career-high by far and tied Gore for the most on the team, and his 26 receptions were a career-best, topping his previous high of 19 catches his rookie year in 2012.
So while Gore appears set to be the workhorse once again, Turbin does all the dirty work and Mack provides the potential of the big-play back — and let's not forget the speedster Josh Ferguson, who is entering his second season in 2017 — the Colts seem good to go at the running back position in 2017.
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.