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Report: ‘Optimism’ that Colts RB Jonathan Taylor could return next week

The Colts could be getting their star workhorse back from recent thumb surgery as soon as next weekend.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianpolis Colts Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, there is optimism that Indianapolis Colts star running back Jonathan Taylor could return next weekend against the Atlanta Falcons (Week 16), as he’s finishing up his recovery from torn UCL thumb surgery:

Taylor has already been declared out against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, as he’ll miss his third straight contest rehabbing his surgically repaired thumb. That being said, the Colts were always hopeful that he could return sooner than the 4-game absence that an injured reserve stint would’ve otherwise required.

If Taylor returns next week, the Colts’ conviction will have been proven right.

On the season, Taylor has 100 carries for 414 total rushing yards (4.1 ypc. avg.) and 4 rushing touchdowns during 7 games (5 starts). He missed the first four games of this year’s regular season on PUP, as he continued to rehab from offseason ankle surgery.

While his top backup, interim starter Zack Moss, had a breakout start to the 2023 campaign, as one of the league’s leading rushers. The Colts running game has collectively cooled off in Taylor’s absence, as the Indy o-line isn’t run blocking as well as they once had (*a recent knee injury to starting right tackle Braden Smith likely hasn’t helped):

Taylor’s return should help boost the Colts ground game—as soon as next weekend. While Moss has been largely steady in Taylor’s absence as a solid replacement running back, he lacks the explosive, big play ability that the former NFL First-Team All-Pro otherwise provides.

The hope is that if the Colts’ running game stalls against the Steelers again, Taylor’s return could jumpstart it to close out the 2023 campaign and for an AFC playoff push.