Last Tuesday, reporters quickly noticed that running back Jonathan Taylor wasn’t in attendance for practice. Despite being on the PUP list, Taylor was present at every practice until that day. Following practice, head coach Shane Steichen downplayed the situation, saying that whenever Taylor isn’t seen on the field, it’s because he’s rehabbing.
Steichen refused to answer whether Taylor was rehabbing on-site or not, but it eventually came out that Taylor was away from the team facilities completely. After a week away, Jonathan Taylor has now returned and is present at training camp. It’s unlikely that Steichen will go into detail about why Taylor went away for a week, and since Taylor is on the PUP list, he won’t be talking to the media.
What we do know is that Taylor is still injured, and that’s why he’s on the PUP list. However, despite a trade request, and a desire for a new contract, Taylor is expected to return to the field once healthy. That’s what the Colts expect, and per ESPN’s Stephen Holder, Taylor is prepared to practice and play out the final year of his contract, but only once he’s 100% healthy.
Jonathan Taylor willing to play out contract but only once he’s 100% healthy
No one outside the organization really knows the specifics of Taylor’s ankle injury, or how close he is to returning. Just before Indy returned to training camp, all signs pointed to Taylor being ready at the start of camp. However, things changed at the last minute, and from the outside looking in, it seemingly correlated with the contract dispute.
However, Taylor is echoing his statements from earlier in the offseason, when he said that he is going to play out the contract that he signed. That makes it seem like Taylor really is still hurt, and after being encouraged to play through injury last season, he doesn’t want to get back on to the field until he’s 100%. He certainly can’t be faulted for that, especially with his future with the team in limbo during a contract year.
As messy as this all is, the best path forward for the organization remains paying Taylor, and keeping him on the roster for a few more seasons. Between the injury and contract drama, it may be forgotten just how special of a player Taylor is. The Colts need Jonathan Taylor, so they need to do everything possible to repair his ankle and his relationship with the team.