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Confidence And Control: Why Texans' Marlon Mack Is Ready For Breakout Campaign

Marlon Mack will have to battle it out this summer for reps in a running back room with no clear pecking order.

HOUSTON -- Marlon Mack's revival tour with the Houston Texans will begin against familiar faces. The Indianapolis Colts come to NRG Stadium on Sept. 11, and Mack will know plenty of fellas on the opposing sidelines. 

Drafted out of South Florida in 2017 by the Colts, Mack spent five years in their backfield, quickly rising from a fifth-round draft pick to part-time starter and eventual 1,000-yard rusher. In a contract year, he was looking to build off a breakout campaign in 2019

A torn Achilles in Week 1 ended his 2020 season. With the emergence of All-Pro Jonathan Taylor, Mack's touches diminished in his final season there, but the explosiveness seems to be coming back through training camp

"Last year, I didn't get that chance to show myself, but in the few games that I did, I felt that confidence in myself," Mack said Friday. "But now, I've actually just got to go out there and do it again, once again. I feel good, man. Every day I'm showing that explosion."

The Texans signed Mack to a one-year, $2 million in the offseason. In a way, the two needed each other. Houston was looking for stability in its backfield. Mack was looking for a chance to prove he's still capable of being a leading rusher. 

Throughout camp, Mack has shown some burst between the tackles. On Friday, twice the 26-year-old broke upfield past a pair of defenders, making it to the third level of defense. 

The average time for an Achilles injury to heal is roughly a year. Almost two years after his season ended, Mack feels he's "there again" health-wise.

"Confidence it's very important I would say, especially in this game, because your confidence will get killed pretty quick around here," Mack said.

Mack likely is slated as the Week 1 starter against Indianapolis. Houston is coming off a season in which it finished dead last in yards per attempt at 3.4. The Texans also finished last in rushing touchdowns with eight. 

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Will Texans coach Lovie Smith triple Mack's workload from a season ago? The preseason should answer that. And yes, expect Mack to see a heavy dose of reps in the exhibition games after being limited to 28 carries last season. 

Mack won't be the only running back looking for the title of leading rusher. Fourth-round rookie Dameon Pierce has made his presence felt nearly every practice. At Florida, Pierce was utilized often in the red zone due to his physicality. In Houston, he's proving to be more than a one-trick pony. 

"He's always asking questions," Mack chuckled. "That's one thing you need as a young running back; ask questions, make sure you get everything from coaches and just be well on yourself, and that's what he's doing.”

Does Mack wonder what could have been in Indy without a torn Achilles? Maybe at one point, but not anymore. Houston provides an opportunity to turn his career.

Indianapolis offers his first chance.

Said Mack: "They're going to come 110 (percent) at me, so I've got to be able to go 110 (percent) at them. I'm going to be ready and I know they're going to be ready, and I'm just going to go out there and do my best.”

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