According to senior NFL insider Dianna Russini, the Indianapolis Colts will initially deploy freshly activated running back Jonathan Taylor on a pitch count—gradually ramping up his game day snaps over the next month:
A new contract doesn't mean an unleashed Jonathan Taylor. I was told the Colts are going to be smart with his usage considering he hasn't played since last year because of his ankle. The Colts will have him on a count & ramp up his workload over the next month, per source.— Dianna Russini (@DMRussini) October 7, 2023
It’s not exactly surprising, especially after seeing how the Colts have so far handled star linebacker Shaquille Leonard, who’s also coming off surgery, to start the season.
With Taylor having not played any training camp and preseason snaps, and only practiced for a few days earlier this week, his conditioning is presumably not necessarily in full game day shape yet (even if he has been consistently working out on the side).
During the next month, Taylor will likely form a platoon with running back Zack Moss, who’s performed very well in #28’s absence. While Moss lacks some of the big play, home running ability of Taylor, he’s a solid, physical hard nosed rusher, especially as a backup.
Taylor will ultimately assume more of a workhorse’s role during the 2023 campaign, but for now, the Colts appear to be easing him into this year’s regular season, having just inked a lucrative 3-year, $42M contract extension.
Taylor’s ankle is reportedly now 100% healthy, which may have been a precursor for the Colts getting his new deal done. However, he’s also coming off PUP for the first time—meaning there may be some initial rust to work out.
The Colts’ pitch count plan takes account of that.