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Marlon Mack Played Through 2017 With Shoulder Injury Suffered In Training Camp

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NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

One of the great things about the beginning of training camp is that we again have regular access to players and coaches who can shed light on some of the goings on in the organization. While there are some things that coaches and players won’t comment on, and answers that you are just unlikely to get no matter what time of year, on report day for the Colts 2018 training camp, there have been some interesting details that have come out.

We already heard from Frank Reich that Andrew Luck will play in the Colts’ first preseason game. However, there was another detail that surfaced today that was very interesting.

In Marlon Mack’s press conference, he informed reporters that he had injured his shoulder during training camp last year, and played with a torn labrum through the whole season. We already believed his injury had taken place early in the season, but this revelation was surprising.

It brings a couple things to mind. First, Marlon Mack’s toughness cannot be in question. The guy did what was asked of him and played the whole season through with an injury that had to be painful. Second, it is difficult not to wonder what impact starting the season healed and fresh will have on the 2nd year runner.

Many people have been critical of the Colts talent in their backfield heading into this season. They don’t have a big name player on the roster, and I wrote not long ago about the fact that there will be a pretty tough battle among the running backs in training camp to establish themselves as valuable assets to the team.

This news that last year we had a Marlon Mack who suffered through injury, and one that likely got progressively worse as the season went on, changes our perspective on expectations for him in the coming season.

Did a messed up shoulder contribute to Mack’s hesitation to hit tight holes up the middle? Coming out of college, Mack’s tendency and preference to bounce the ball outside was known, but it feels like it would have been made worse by the knowledge that pounding the ball up the middle on very predictable running plays was going to involve an extra dose of pain.

Players play through pain all the time, and I’m not suggesting that Mack intentionally didn’t do what was asked of him, but a moment’s hesitation at this level is enough to derail a play. If Mack enters this season shedding any hesitation he may have had last season, he likely looks like a greatly improved back.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’ll get to run behind a rejuvenated offensive line either. The level of explosiveness and speed in the Colts backfield paired with the infusion of run-blocking talent on the Colts interior makes me think we could see some truly impressive rushing performances this season, and we might have a whole new Marlon Mack leading the way.