What Must Marlon Mack Do To Earn Rookie Playing Time?

Intro: The game-breaking ability of rookie running back Marlon Mack has been well-documented. What must Mack do though to earn rookie playing time?


INDIANAPOLIS – It's the but that often accompanies the description of a quicker running back making the jump to the professional ranks.

He's fast, but he struggles to block.

Can a rookie running back stand in a hole and pick up a blitzing linebacker for a third-down conversion?

That's the question that leaves coaches going crazy at night in trying to decide how much their rookie runner should/can play in Year One.

The question will be coming for Marlon Mack later this year, beginning when the full pads are worn at Training Camp.

For now, Mack looks the part at 6-1 and 210 pounds.

"He's picking up things extremely fast," Chuck Pagano says of the rookie running back.

"He's got good hands and he's got good vision. He's got a nice jump cut. He's explosive and he can burst. He's good in traffic and he's learning the protection part of it."

Mack admits that the blocking responsibilities in the NFL are a drastic increase from what he had at South Florida.

Playing in a spread offensive system, and with the ball frequently designed for Mack, protection duties were not always there.

A little more than a month into his NFL-life, Mack realizes just how important pass protecting will be to his rookie playing time.

"It's a lot, but I'm picking up everything," Mack says of the protection calls.

Everyone knows why the Colts chose a runner like Mack.

Last year, no Colts running back had a run of more than 20 yards in any game.

Mack had two runs of at least 43 yards in just one game last season.

That's the flash.

But what about the dirty work?

"Once we get into pads and we get into the preseason, we'll figure out if (Mack) can stop and block the guys that he's going to have to block in pass protection," Pagano says.

"But he's showing some good things out there to this point."

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