With camps underway across the NFL, it’s easy to get too excited too soon for young players and their potential. However, when a coach is praising you after your first few rookie practices, then it obviously carries more weight.
Such is the case for the Indianapolis Colts and former USF Bull Marlon Mack. The Colts grabbed the explosive all time leading rusher in USF history in the fourth round of the draft with modest expectations to blend him in with veteran Frank Gore and others.
Well, coach Chuck Pagano was asked Friday about Mack and did not hesitate to prop him up:
Chuck Pagano on rookie RB Marlon Mack. (Side note: Pagano rarely heaps praise on rookies like this) pic.twitter.com/uGOD5svz4a
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 4, 2017
The last sentence of the comments by Pagano are the most intriguing, because he ended with the words “special player.” Mack repeatedly showed power and even, at times, breakaway speed at USF, but his ability to pass block and go down the field for receptions is going to be important, too.
The reality in Indy is Gore is 34 years old and has had just shy of 3,000 carries in his 12 seasons in the NFL. He’s not the future and at the position he plays, this may be the year that he begins to slip dramatically, as a productive back. Then again, he still averaged right at four yards per carry last season, and will be the primary back to at least start the season.
The hope would be that Mack would be the complimentary back to begin the year and ease into the role of being “featured’ in an offense that primarily relies on QB Andrew Luck to orchestrate their success with the pass game. And, that’s also why if you are going to play on third down in Indianapolis, you better know how to block for him. Which, by the way, is what Gore does an excellent job; protect the star.
There’s no question that Mack, as with any other rookie at this point, has proven nothing until we see him in preseason competition, especially against first team opposition.
But, judging by how his first NFL camp has started, he may get a chance very soon to show it in August games.