There’s still no timeline for Jonathan Taylor to take the field, but the Colts’ star running back is expected to return to training camp in the near future.
“He should be back this week,” head coach Shane Steichen told reporters on Sunday. “Do I know the exact date that he’ll be back? No, but he should be back.”
Taylor, who requested a trade on July 29 as he seeks better security and pay heading into the final year of his rookie contract, has been away from the facility for over a week, receiving treatment in his recovery from the January ankle surgery that landed him on the physically unable to perform list at the outset of camp.
His return does not clear up when Taylor might start practicing with the team again. The running back is still waiting to reach full health to prevent reinjury and play at 100 percent in the regular season.
Taylor protecting himself against any setbacks is for his and the Colts’ benefit — assuming Indianapolis doesn’t honor his request — but also a necessity given the road block his fellow RBs have recently run into trying to get paid.
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The offseason’s free-agent market for running backs capped out at Miles Sanders’ deal worth $6.4 million per year, Austin Ekeler similarly requested a trade before agreeing to a revised contract, Joe Mixon took a pay cut to remain a Bengal, and all three RBs who received the franchise tag were unable to negotiate multi-year deals.
That led big names at the position to hold a Zoom meeting, where they discussed altering the franchise tag to make it positionless, which in turn led to Colts owner Jim Irsay rejecting such a notion on social media while pointing to the current collective bargaining agreement.
That shifted the spotlight onto Indy’s situation with Taylor, the 2021 rushing leader who has already delivered 4,643 all-purpose yards and 36 scores for the Colts through three campaigns.
Soon thereafter, Irsay revealed that the team had not made a contract offer to Taylor. The two met on the team bus during a practice at the end of July, after which it was reported that Taylor made his trade request.
Irsay attempted to squash the idea in a text to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer: “We’re not trading Jonathan … end of discussion. Not now and not in October.”
Multiple local writers reported the following day that the team might consider moving him from the PUP list to the non-football injury list, citing a back issue that Taylor then outrightly denied, but that never came to pass.
Backup running back Zack Moss has also suffered a broken arm, and Kenyan Drake inked a deal to join the team since then.
That is the backdrop of Taylor’s impending return to Grand Park Sports Campus, the site of Colts training camp.
Multiple times throughout the process, Steichen has echoed the same expectation. He did so again on Sunday.
“Once the medical staff clears him, he’ll be back out there,” the first-year head coach said.
It’s a simple enough expectation for a situation that is anything but, and the developments that come from Taylor stepping foot back with the club bear watching.
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