The Indianapolis Colts could potentially get a huge piece of their offense back this week.
On Wednesday, star running back Jonathan Taylor returned to Colts practice as a full participant. It was his first practice session since last December, and head coach Shane Steichen recently said that Taylor is "excited to be back." The Colts have 21 days to return Taylor to the active roster. Steichen did not rule out Taylor playing as soon as this week against the Titans. "We'll see," Steichen said, adding he wants to see how Taylor looks before making any decisions.
Taylor, who opened the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, had yet to participate in any Colts activities since the offseason due to an ankle injury and a contract dispute. The team reportedly tried to trade him before the season, but was unable to find an agreeable deal and then placed him on the PUP list.
While Taylor returned to practice, there's no new news on the trade front, according to NFL Media, as there have been no recent trade talks between the Colts and other teams.
In Taylor's absence, the Colts used Deon Jackson as their starter in Week 1, but have since turned to Zack Moss, who sat out the season opener after breaking his arm during training camp. Moss has filled in admirably, rushing 66 times for 280 yards and a touchdown, but his yards per carry average has dropped with each successive week (4.9 to 4.1 to 3.9).
After finishing second in Offensive Player of the Year voting and being named a First Team All-Pro in 2021, Taylor took a step backward amid an injury-marred season a year ago. He posted career-lows in yards per carry (4.5) and success rate (48.4%), as well as catch rate (70%) and yards per reception (5.1).
Indianapolis added quarterback Anthony Richardson in the draft this offseason, though, and mobile quarterbacks like Richardson have been shown in the past to increase the efficiency of running backs with whom they share the backfield.
"I know he's a great player and I know I can do some things pretty well," Richardson said of Taylor. "So just trying to combine those two things -- I can only imagine what it's like, but we won't see until it actually happens. So, you know, we'll see and I'm excited."
Taylor likely still wants a new contract, and with free agency looming next offseason, having a bounceback year running the ball could be a boon to his prospects of landing a deal -- even in what has recently been a depressed running back market.