INDIANAPOLIS – Insult to injury comes in the form of the Colts not only losing their season opener, but also their 1,000-yard running back for the remainder of the season.
Marlon Mack has ruptured his right Achilles and will be heading for injured reserve with his 2020 season over after just a quarter and a half of action.
First, what a devastating injury to a player who handled the arrival of Jonathan Taylor like a professional.
“That’s really unfortunate,” Frank Reich said on Monday of Mack’s season-ending injury. “Marlon is beloved in our locker room. I have such an immense amount of love and respect for this guy. He’s a true Colt. He was just looking so good in training camp. Even in the few snaps yesterday, he just looked like lightning out there. It’s very unfortunate and bad timing for him and his family.
“I really believe the best football is still ahead for Marlon Mack. That guy is a class act in every way and a great player.”
For Mack, his injury will severely impact the free agent market he was likely to garner next spring, as the fourth-year running back seeks out that (one and only?) notable pay day.
For the Colts, they now will thrust Jonathan Taylor into a role that they hoped to ease him into.
Taylor had 9 carries for 22 yards (2.4 yards per carry) to go along with 6 catches for 67 yards in his NFL debut.
Nyheim Hines will take on a greater role. Hines had 7 carries for 28 yards and 8 catches for 45 yards against the Jaguars.
Jordan Wilkins played just one offensive snap in Week One, but he should be expected to see more action.
If the Colts want to go off their 53-man roster to fill Mack’s roster spot, they have undrafted free agent RB-Darius Anderson on the practice squad.
Some of the free agent running backs currently available include: Devonta Freeman, Lamar Miller, Theo Riddick, Isaiah Crowell and former Colts Robert Turbin and Spencer Ware.
Two weeks ago, the Colts worked out running backs Javon Leake, Taquan Mizzell, Khalfani Muhammad, C.J. Prosise, Cameron Scarlett and Jordan Scarlett. Of that group, Prosise (a third-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2016) easily has the most career carries, with 65 attempts for 264 yards and 36 catches for 393 yards.
While some of those names offer intrigue, the most likely scenario is for the Colts to slide Taylor into the starting lineup and hope his pass pro can hold up at the NFL level, along with keeping Hines as a key and versatile weapon. Wilkins, who has routinely produced when called upon, is definitely an option to spell Taylor, too.
Even though the Colts have seen unsung running back performances behind this O-line before (i.e. Jonathan Williams, who is now on the Lions practice squad, last year), the injury to Mack is very significant.
It forces a rookie to grow up and deliver fast.
It stresses the need for Taylor, Mack and Wilkins to stay healthy at a position of normal attrition.
And it takes away a player who the Colts have struggled to win without.