INDIANAPOLIS – Jonathan Taylor’s long and winding road has led him back to the Indianapolis Colts.
The team’s star running back has been added to the active roster and is available for Sunday’s meeting with the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It’s the next logical step for Taylor, who last played Dec. 17 at Minnesota and subsequently dealt with:
*Jan. 25 surgery on his right ankle.
*a longer-than-expected rehabilitation.
*a contentious offseason with the team over the lack of a contract extension and a requested trade that hasn’t materialized.
*missing the first four games of the season after being placed on the reserve-physically unable to perform list.
*practicing for the first time Wednesday, albeit in a walkthrough setting, then hitting being full-go Thursday and Friday.
*being added to the 53-player roster Saturday.
Shane Steichen had several discussions with Taylor leading up to him rejoining the team following an offseason of discontent. He kept the details of those talks private.
“He’s excited to be back with the team,’’ Steichen said.
Taylor has led the Colts in rushing in each of his first three seasons – 3,841 yards and 33 rushing touchdowns in 43 games – and led the NFL in 2021 with a franchise-record 1,811 yards.
At least initially, he likely will be worked gradually into the lineup. Zack Moss has been an effective fill-in with 280 yards in three games – No. 9 in the league – and rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson has added 131 yards and four TDs.
“It’s great to have both,’’ Steichen said of Taylor and Moss. “Different backs with different styles. You can switch it up throughout the games with both of those guys in there.
“Obviously, we’ll have those conversations – myself, Jim Bob (Cooter) and DeAndre (Smith), our running backs coach – and see where it all goes. Again, super excited to have JT back.
“To add a guy back like JT and then Zack and Anthony, you got three guys that are really good runners. There could be some times that you have breather plays where Anthony is not always running zone-read or something. You just hand the ball off to No. 28 and Zack and go play ball.’’
At some point, Taylor should assume his role as feature back. That means an adjusted role for Mack.
“I don’t worry about that,’’ he said. “Those guys (coaches) handle all that. When they call for 21 to do something, I go do something.
“Obviously he’s a great player. Going to be a big addition for our offense. Super excited to have him back. I think everybody is, in here and outside as well.
“He’s been looking good. He’s been doing the same things he was doing before (the injury).’’
Center Ryan Kelly also will return against the Titans. He’s missed the past two games with a concussion.
Kelly is eager to witness Taylor’s impact.
“Zack’s done a really good job,’’ he said. “I’m not sure what the game plan is to get (Taylor) some touches or not, but I think that room has definitely excelled, especially now that Jonathan Taylor is back and just getting him back in the flow of things.
“I know it’s been a little distance since he’s been in there, but just good to see him back in the huddle.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.