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Jonathan Taylor reacts to first game back, major contract extension

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - OCTOBER 08: Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts exits the tunnel prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A roar 65,000 strong echoed in Lucas Oil Stadium as Jonathan Taylor ran out of the Colts tunnel Sunday.

“That’s priceless,” said Taylor. “We have the best fans in the world.”

For the first time in 295 days, Taylor was in the starting lineup for the Colts. From rehabbing after off-season ankle surgery, to dealing with a contentious contract battle, Taylor’s return has been a long-awaited reunion.

“Man, it’s been a journey, but to be able to step back on the field today with my brothers, that was a good feeling,” said Taylor. “Just being able to get my feet wet, get back into it, the NFL’s a physical game, just being able to work yourself back in felt great. I don’t know if anybody says this, but it felt great getting hit just because you haven’t felt that in a while.”

Taylor’s journey with the Colts will continue for years to come. The Pro Bowler signed a three-year contract extension worth $42 million — locking him in for the long haul.

“It means a lot just to be able to know that I’m going to be here playing for the best fans in the world, playing with some of the best players in the world, and to just know that it’s a family atmosphere here,” said Taylor. “Like I said from Day one after my first season, I’ve always wanted to retire a Colt, so to be able to take another step towards that, it’s amazing.”

After spending four weeks on the bench, Taylor’s triumphant return was a full circle moment. Taylor’s first game back was against the Titans in Lucas Oil Stadium — the exact same game he originally injured his ankle in last season.

The locker room was pumped postgame, not just for beating their arch rivals for the first time in six games, but for getting their All-Pro running back back.

“Couldn’t be happier for the guy,” said center Ryan Kelly. “It all worked out. To have a combo like him and Zack Moss back there makes our job a lot easier.”

“Just having his leadership in the room, Pro Bowl guy, All-Pro running back, all that kind of stuff, just great character, high character. We’re super excited to have him back in the room,” said fellow running back Zack Moss.

“It’s great to have him back,” said head coach Shane Steichen. “The home run ability that he brings to us as we keep going and next week obviously practicing and getting him going a little more, it’ll be good.

Add in Moss’s consistent 100-plus yard games.

“I think it could get really scary,” Taylor said with a big smile. “I think you guys got a taste, I mean, not even today you guys got a taste. You guys have been getting a taste the past few weeks with Zack. So now it’s on me in order to continue to do my part and continue to help this team, and that’s what I’m going to do. Every single day. Grind, inch by inch, and we’ll get there.”

Climbing all the way to the top.