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Frank Reich on backfield: 'Respect' for returning starter Marlon Mack

The Indianapolis Colts sit as one of the most intriguing teams in the AFC entering the 2020 season after upgrades on both sides of the ball have fortified a stellar roster.

One addition that could boost the Colts' offense was drafting running back Jonathan Taylor, who projects as an early-down workhorse after an impressive college career at Wisconsin.

Monday, however, coach Frank Reich noted that we shouldn't count out incumbent starter Marlon Mack from retaining the job. The coach also underscored the importance Nyheim Hines will play.

"There's definitely inherent respect for the starter returning," Reich said, via Kevin Bowen of 107.5 The Fan. "And that's the way I see this. ... I see it as a 1-1 (punch). The way the league has gone and the way role playing has been elevated in our league, it's made it prominent. We used to say in San Diego that when we had Danny Woodhead. He was not our starter, he was our 'role-playing' starter. He played such a significant role. He had 80 catches in a year. You look at a guy like Nyheim Hines. We talk about Marlon and Jonathan, but what about Nyheim? He's such a good third-down back that he'll play a prominent (role). In some ways, (Hines) is a starter. He's a role-playing starter."

It's not the first time this offseason Reich pumped up Hines' potential in 2020, suggesting he'll play a significant part as the third-down Danny Woodhead type. That would leave Taylor and Mack to battle for first- and second-down snaps.

It wasn't long ago that Colts owner Jim Irsay was boasting about Mack being a 1,500-yard player. Last year, the 24-year-old rushed for 1,091 yards on 247 carries with eight rushing touchdowns in 14 games. Mack has the talent to be a difference-maker if healthy.

With that said, teams don't draft running backs 41st overall to redshirt them. Given his pedigree, Taylor will certainly play a big role for Indy in 2020.

In most cases, the veteran like Mack gets first crack at the starting gig, and Taylor will have to beat him out over the early part of the season before the rookie sees his workload increase.

Between the trio of backs, it's clear Reich wants to employ a potent committee entering 2020. How the snaps shake out should be determined during the training camp battle and first few games of the season.

Unless you're worried about a fantasy football team, the depth at the position is good news for the Colts heading into the season.

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