Colts RB Jonathan Taylor to return to practice, could play vs. Titans
Colts Insider Kevin Bowen on Richardson, Taylor after Week 4
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The wait is over: Indianapolis Colts All-Pro running back Jonathan Taylor is back.
Head coach Shane Steichen said Monday that the former NFL rushing leader will practice Wednesday after missing the first four games stuck on the Physically Unable to Perform list still rehabbing from offseason ankle surgery. Wednesday will be Taylor’s first team practice since Dec. 17.
That’s 291 days.
Wednesday’s session is planned for just a walkthrough while practice will start fully Thursday.
“I had great conversations with him,” Steichen said. “He’s super excited to be back with his teammates, and looking forward to having him.”
The Colts now have 21 days to either activate Taylor to the 53-man roster or place him on the Injured Reserve list to end his season.
With Taylor back at practice, a possibility exists that he could make his season debut Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in Lucas Oil Stadium. But, getting back to practice is just one hurdle for Taylor being ready to go on game day.
“He’s been working his tail off with the rehab process. He’s feeling good. So, we’ll have those conversations throughout the week, and then we’ll make that decision,” Steichen said. “He’s in good shape conditioning wise. Obviously, putting on the pads and practicing is a different deal. I know it’s been a long time since he’s played football. We’ll see how practice goes this week, see where he’s at physically putting the pads on, and we’ll go from there.”
The Colts run game has been surprisingly just fine without Taylor in the backfield. The Colts are averaging 115.8 yards per game. Between the success of running back Zack Moss (66 carries for 280 yards in three games) and the explosiveness of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson (141 yards and four rushing touchdowns in three games), the Colts have pounded the ground game with success. However, Steichen knows the return of Taylor would be big for the offense.
“He’s a big-time player. He’s explosive. He can hit the homeruns when he sees the hole – that explosive breakaway speed. Great vision, power – obviously, one of the top backs in this league without a doubt,” Steichen said. “To add a guy back like JT (Jonathan Taylor) and then Zack (Moss) and Anthony (Richardson) – you got three guys that are really good runners. There could be some times that you have breather plays where Anthony is not always running zone read or something, you just hand the ball off to No. 28 and Zack and go play ball.”
Even as Taylor returns to practice, the controversy surrounding his contract lingers. Taylor asked for a trade during training camp amidst a contentious contract battle as Taylor enters the final year of his rookie deal. So far, the Colts haven’t agreed upon any trade offers, but the potential to send Taylor to another team will remain.
The Colts host the Titans 1 p.m. Sunday for the third divisional game of the season. The AFC South is knotted in a four-way tie for first with every team sitting at a 2-2 record after Week 4.
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