Former Bulls’ running back and current Indianapolis Colt Marlon Mack had a career day in Indianapolis’ 26-23 overtime victory over San Francisco on Sunday.
Mack, who left USF after his junior season in 2016 as the school’s all-time rushing leader, scored on a 22-yard run and posted a career-high 91 rushing yards in his biggest game as a pro.
Mack had missed the Colts' previous two games with a shoulder injury, but showed no signs of rust as he averaged 10.1 yards per carry on nine carries in his return.
Though he is still considered to be the complimentary back to starting running back Frank Gore (14 attempts, 48 rushing yards and two fumbles), Mack outproduced the 34-year-old veteran on fewer touches Sunday.
“I think it’d be wise to try to find ways to get him the football and get him more involved,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano told the Indianapolis Star after the win. “I think that would’ve happened by itself if he would’ve been available. But it’s good to have him back.”
Gore, who’s been in the NFL since 2005, has averaged 3.2 yards per carry in 2017 with two touchdowns. Mack, who’s played in three games due to injury, has two touchdowns and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
On Sunday, Mack rattled off runs of 17, 22 and 35 yards, all of which were to the outside. The 35-yard run helped set up Colts’ place-kicker Adam Vinatieri’s game winning field goal in overtime.
“Marlon is a change-of-pace guy,” Pagano said. “He’s a speed guy. When he gets outside on the perimeter, he’s dangerous. And we all saw that.”
Despite his production through his first three professional games, if Mack — who was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft in April — plans on overtaking the Colts No. 1 running back duties in 2017, he’ll need to improve his pass blocking.
“It’s very different,” Mack told the Indianapolis Star about NFL protection schemes. “At South Florida, I’m not going to lie. We had like five (protections). Here, we have a bunch.”
Regardless of whether he takes over the No. 1 running back duties or not, it’s apparent that Mack has established himself as a weapon in the Colts’ offense moving forward.
“You get those playmakers and you get them out in space and you’re going to create the matchup that you want,” Pagano said. “He’s a tough matchup.”