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Jonathan Taylor continues rehab but remains on PUP list as Colts prepare for preseason opener

Indianapolis Colts players not participating in practice, left to right, safety Julian Blackmon, running back Jonathan Taylor and safety Daniel Scott walk to the field during practice at the NFL team's football training camp in Westfield, Ind., on Aug. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

WESTFIELD, Ind. (AP) — Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor did not attend practice Tuesday as he continues rehabbing from offseason ankle surgery while he continues to seek a contract extension or a trade.

Coach Shane Steichen did not provide a timetable for Taylor’s return though he said the hope was Taylor would practice before Indy concludes its workouts next week at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana, about a 30-minute drive from team headquarters.

While he has spent the past two weeks on the physically unable to perform list, Taylor had been a regular around the field and in team meetings — until Tuesday, which prompted speculation about whether he was even at Indy’s training camp complex.

“This is part of his rehab process. If you guys don’t see him out here, it’s part of his rehab,” Steichen said before being asked whether Taylor was working onsite or at another venue. “I’ll refrain from getting into that.”

Steichen also has avoided talking about Taylor’s contract. The former New Jersey prep star is scheduled to make roughly $4.3 million this season, the final year on his rookie contract.

But Taylor is one of several prominent running backs who have publicly complained about how teams value running backs in today’s NFL. They believe the $10.1 million franchise tag, the lowest for any position other than punters and kickers, is far too low for players who often touch the ball hundreds of times per season and incur some of the most punishing hits.

Team owner Jim Irsay responded with a social media post in which he noted the league’s collective bargaining agreement was negotiated in good faith while contending agents are acting in bad faith. Taylor’s agent, Malki Kawa, wrote back it was bad faith not to re-sign the team’s top offensive player.

Following that flurry, Irsay and Taylor met for one hour on the owner’s motorhome while Taylor’s teammates practiced the first Saturday night of camp.

“It was just a good conversation and, you know, hopeful going forward,” Irsay said at the time. “We’re looking forward to a great season, hoping that Jonathan’s a big part of that and I think we had a good conversation.”

The trade request went public shortly after the meeting and Irsay then said he would not deal him before the season — or at the October trade deadline — and neither side has indicated anything has changed since that night.

Taylor topped the 2,000-yard mark twice in college at Wisconsin and rushed for 2,980 yards and 29 TDs in his first two NFL seasons. He was a unanimous All-Pro selection in 2021, when he led the league with 2,171 total yards and tied for the league lead in total touchdowns with 20.

Last season, though, he rushed for 861 yards despite missing six games with an ankle injury. Indy is hoping a healthy Taylor will be more productive in 2023 and will help the Colts rebound from a 4-12-1 record last season.

“I think he’s in a good spot, and we’re going from there,” Steichen said. “We’ll see how it all plays out though. Again, once he’s cleared, he’ll be out here.”