According to The Athletic’s Zak Keefer, Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack continues to mentor rookie rusher Jonathan Taylor and the team’s young backfield despite recovering from a season-ending torn Achilles:
This is interesting: Despite suffering his season-ending torn Achilles, Colts running back Marlon Mack has stayed in Indianapolis to help his teammates this season. He's in the RB meetings every week and essentially has become another asst. coach for rookie Jonathan Taylor.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) October 26, 2020
Entering a contract season, Mack, who rushed for over 1,000 yards for the Colts last season, and was expected to form a hard-hitting ‘1-2 punch’ with Taylor, suffered the devastating injury in the team’s opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It’s not the first time that Mack has said and done the right thing—even when healthy in a crowded backfield that just added a highly touted rookie who may ultimately replace him:
Important: In the last 2 months, Marlon Mack went out of his way to help Jonathan Taylor ready for the season, answering questions about pre-snap reads, protections + blitzes. He was a GREAT teammate. He wanted the rookie up to speed.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) September 14, 2020
Now Taylor steps into the starting role.
Colts running back Marlon Mack, speaking for the first time since the team drafted Jonathan Taylor the second round this spring: “We can be great together ... the dude is gonna be beast. Just wait.”— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 21, 2020
Mack made the most of an otherwise awkward situation and put the team ahead of himself—believing that Taylor’s much anticipated arrival could make both backs better in the long-run.
It’s his past production, mentorship, and ultimate commitment to the team that may make the Colts think awfully hard about rewarding Mack with a 1-year ‘prove it’ deal (similar to the one in 2019 given to veteran safety Clayton Geathers)—if Mack’s free agent market proves to be cold in the 2021 offseason.
In truth, despite Taylor’s initial promise and impact, the Colts miss Mack too on the field.
Taylor is still adjusting to the speed and physicality of the NFL level, while the Colts offensive line, in turn, is adjusting to the rookie’s contrasting running style—as Mack was exceptional with patience and setting up potential blocks.
Still, Mack appears to be a very selfless pro and consummate team player—a true Horseshoe guy, as he’s still making a meaningful impact player-coaching for the Colts, even while currently on injured reserve.
That’s something that shouldn’t go unnoticed when general manager Chris Ballard has to contemplate about whether to re-sign the 24 year old running back (and team leader) next season—depending on how he also continues to progress in his ongoing rehabilitation.