According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Indianapolis Colts free agent running back Marlon Mack is progressing well in his ongoing rehabilitation and is expected to be a full go for training camp—wherever that may be:
Free agent RB Marlon Mack, who rushed for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns over two seasons with #Colts before an Achilles tear Sept. 13, is progressing well in his rehab and plans to be a full go for training camp somewhere, per source. He will test free agency.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) March 12, 2021
Of course, the former 2017 4th round pick of the Colts suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in last season’s opener.
While achilles injuries can sap explosiveness—especially for a running back position that requires it, Mack is still only 25 years old and has youth on his side to potentially regain his prior standout form. He’s just a year removed from a 2019 season in which he rushed for 1,091 rushing yards on 247 carries (4.4 ypc. avg.) and 8 rushing touchdowns.
Even though Mack opened last year as the Colts starter, he’s been supplanted in the starting lineup by soon-to-be second-year sensation (and explosive power back) Jonathan Taylor, in a crowded backfield with electric scatback Nyheim Hines playing behind Taylor—as essentially a modern ‘Thunder and Lightning’ combination in Indianapolis’ running back stable.
Still, Mack has been a consummate professional throughout his rehabilitation and continued to be a great teammate—helping to mentor Taylor and the Colts other young running backs despite an uncertain future in Indianapolis.
While the Colts may not be able to afford Mack on a lucrative, multi-year deal, and his return is still unlikely. Should his free agent market prove cold, it’s possible Indianapolis could bring him back on a 1-year ‘prove it’ deal to continue to allow him to rehab with the team and regain some of his lost value—albeit in a much more limited role during 2021:
“Marlon Mack deserves a contract unequivocally,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said regarding Mack’s potential return earlier this offseason.
“He deserves a good contract. I don’t know if we are going to be able to do that here. Saying that, I’m not going to say that ‘Marlon is not going to be back,’ because I think he’s really special as a player and I could just see a backfield of Marlon, Jonathan (Taylor) and Nyheim (Hines) and (Jordan) Wilkins be really special. So I’m not going to discount it, but I think Marlon Mack is a great player and deserves what he has coming to him. And he’s even a better teammate, unselfish, everything you want.”