The Indianapolis Colts are off to a solid 2-2 start, and one of their best players has yet to play.
However, who knows if it will be as easy as inserting Jonathan Taylor back in the lineup.
Taylor is eligible to come off injured reserve this week and Colts head coach Shane Steichen confirmed what had already been reported: Taylor appears to be ready to go, in terms of his health. Steichen said the team is expecting him to practice Wednesday.
Per Coach Steichen, Jonathan Taylor will return to practice Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/UDLzQX8lPS
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) October 2, 2023
Normally that would be great, uncomplicated news. But Taylor's situation has been messy for a while.
Taylor requested a trade from the team when he didn't get a contract extension, then Colts owner Jim Irsay agitated the issue by dismissing running backs' concerns over their dwindling market. Irsay said he wouldn't trade Taylor, then a few weeks later the Colts allowed him to seek out a trade. The Colts reportedly made unrealistic demands, which was strange for a player they don't value enough to extend his contract. So Taylor stayed on the Colts but wasn't available for Week 1. Taylor went on IR to start the season, due to an ankle injury from last season, with this future in doubt.
Just because Taylor could practice on Wednesday doesn't mean he'll play on Sunday. The team has three weeks from when Taylor practices to activate him off injured reserve. Steichen said the team will need to evaluate Taylor in practice before making the call on when to activate him, ESPN's Stephen Holder reported. But Steichen put a positive spin on everything else surrounding Taylor.
Steichen: "He's excited to get back with his teammates."
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) October 2, 2023
There's also the question of what Taylor's role will be, assuming he is back in the Colts' lineup and not traded. Zack Moss has played pretty well in Taylor's place. Taylor might not dominate the backfield like he did when healthy the past couple seasons.
There are many questions to be answered regarding Taylor, his role and his future with the Colts. But the first step should come Wednesday when he's back at practice.