Jonathan Taylor, the Indianapolis Colts star running back, has been ruled out for Thursday night’s game against the Denver Broncos.
Taylor suffered a badly twisted ankle during the team’s loss against the Tennessee Titans, and with a quick turnaround this week, the Colts don’t want to test it.
Backup Nyheim Hines will likely see his snap count increase this week, while the Colts also have second year running back Deon Jackson on the depth chart.
Taylor did mention seeing some improvement this week since he sustained the injury, and that he was working hard to rehab it in order to play on Thursday. He went into the week planning to do so.
“I definitely do plan to play,” he said via ESPN, “but if you can’t go, you can’t go. That’s why you … have to get as much treatment as you can.”
Taylor was also wearing a boot on his right leg as he watched Tuesday’s practice.
Head coach Frank Reich noted that Taylor isn’t at risk for a more serious injury, saying, “That’s not a concern at this point.” But erring on the side of caution, Reich and his staff don’t want to test those waters.
It hasn’t been the start Taylor might have liked in 2022, though his numbers are the furthest thing from pedestrian. But when you lead the league in multiple rushing categories a season ago, including yards (1,811), carries (332) and yards per game (106.5), the bar is set higher.
Taylor is sixth in total rushing yards in the first four weeks of the season, totaling 328 on 81 attempts. But the second-round pick of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin has averaged at least 5 yards per carry in his first two seasons — he’s at 4 per carry right now.
Taylor has also found the end zone just once in four games, which is uncharacteristic. But that’s not all on him, as the Colts’ offense has been slow to take off this season. They are currently 19th in the league in total yards per game (339.8), and in Taylor’s department, they are 27th in rushing yards per game (87.8).
Teams know that Reich wants to set the tone on offense with the run game, so there has been a greater emphasis on stopping Taylor. The Titans did just that last week when he had just 42 yards on 20 carries.
After totaling 161 yards on 31 attempts with a touchdown in Week 1 against the Houston Texans, the highest that Taylor has gotten in terms of yards was 71 on 21 touches in Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, a Colts upset to collect their first win of the season.
Hines hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts either for the Colts, as he has just 11 rushing yards on eight attempts. But, with Taylor the workhorse in the backfield, Hines’ role has usually been as a pass-catcher.
New quarterback Matt Ryan has found him 17 times so far this season for 113 yards. Hines hasn’t reached the end zone yet.
Reich’s offense will need to get creative against a Broncos team that is coming off a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders this past week. The Colts are 1-2-1 on the season while the Broncos moved to 2-2.
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