INDIANAPOLIS — Colts running back Jonathan Taylor was still meeting with doctors Monday morning, but the team’s best offensive weapon has suffered a high-ankle sprain and likely won’t play again this season, league sources confirmed to IndyStar.
The NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport reported the news first.
Taylor, who previously hadn’t missed a game in his NFL career, has battled a high sprain in his right ankle for most of the season, initially suffering the injury late in the team’s Oct. 2 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
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The Colts held Taylor out for the next two games, a period of three weeks, before putting him back into the lineup for 10 carries in an Oct. 23 loss to Tennessee. Taylor carried the ball 16 times the next week against Washington, but he reinjured the ankle and was forced to sit out the team’s loss in New England.
After that, Taylor returned to the lineup and carried 85 times over the next four games, picking up 399 yards, but he took a hit on the ankle on his first touch against Minnesota on Saturday, left the game and did not return.
Taylor, who was one of the league’s most electric weapons in his record-setting 1,811-yard campaign in 2021 and piled up 2,980 rushing yards and 32 overall touchdowns in his first two seasons, has just 861 yards and four scores on 192 carries in his 11 games this season.
Battling an injury like this has to be frustrating for Taylor, who spends most of his offseason preparation focused on preventing injury and has a rigid weekly routine focused on recovery, knowing that he plays a position that is prone to injury.
Taylor is often one of the last players in the Colts locker room after games, in part because of a post-game routine centered on recovery.
Before the 2022 season, he’d never missed a game, either in college or in the professional ranks, and even though Indianapolis has stumbled to a 4-9-1 record this season, Taylor said in the locker room last week that he wanted to keep playing hard through the rest of the season.
“I want to fight,” Taylor said last week. “We’re not going to try and let this crumble. We’re going to fight until the very end.”
That was before Taylor took a hit on the ankle at the end of a 12-yard reception against Minnesota.
When Taylor returned to the lineup after missing two games the first time he suffered a high ankle sprain, the Colts were still 3-2-1, but the team is now 14th in the AFC and all but eliminated from the playoffs.
And given the fact that Taylor has reinjured the ankle twice this season, the running back’s long-term health is a consideration.
If Taylor is unable to play in the final three games, the Colts backfield would be turned over to Zack Moss, the former third-rounder acquired in the Nyheim Hines trade to Buffalo, and second-year Indianapolis back Deon Jackson.
Moss took a much bigger share of the workload on Saturday after Taylor’s injury, playing 53 snaps to Jackson’s 25. Moss rushed for 84 yards on 21 carries; Jackson picked up 55 yards on 13 carries and added a catch for one yard, but he also had a critical fumble late in the game. Indianapolis also has veteran running back Jordan Wilkins on the practice squad.
The Colts running game has struggled without Taylor this season. The former All-Pro was averaging 4.5 yards per carry; Jackson is averaging just 3.4 (57 carries, 191 yards) and Moss has averaged 3.6 (31 carries, 112 yards).
But Indianapolis has been a run-heavy team ever since interim coach Jeff Saturday took over, and the Colts will likely continue to pound the ball on the ground in the final three games that feature Chargers, Giants and Texans defenses that have struggled against the run this season, allowing Moss and Jackson a chance to establish themselves as potential backups for Taylor next year.