INDIANAPOLIS – The euphoria hadn’t dissipated 24 hours later.
- Matt Gay’s historic kicking performance.
- Zack Moss’ authoritative running.
- Zaire Franklin continuing to tackle anyone who strays within arm’s reach.
- Michael Pittman Jr.’s 34-yard tough-guy reception while getting his helmet ripped off.
- A franchise barely on the national radar a month ago getting off to just its fourth 2-1 start in 13 years, opening a season 2-0 on the road for the first time since 2013 and finding itself atop the AFC South.
It’s a lot to digest.
But then there’s this.
Two players who had nothing to do with the Indianapolis Colts’ 22-19 overtime upset of the Ravens in Baltimore – that always rankles the home fan base – had to be addressed during Shane Steichen’s Monday Zoom call.
That would be Anthony Richardson. And Jonathan Taylor.
What’s up?: The team’s rookie quarterback missed the Ravens game after suffering a concussion the previous Sunday at Houston. Gardner Minshew II stepped in and made his 25th career start.
What’s next?: Richardson and center Ryan Kelly remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol. Each must work through the five-step process, and then be cleared by the team’s medical staff and an independent neurologist before returning for Sunday’s meeting with the Los Angeles Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Who’s the QB?: Steichen was quick to dismiss any discussion of whether the Colts might stick with Minshew, who played well in relief of Richardson at Houston, and obviously played at a winning level against the Ravens, or return to Richardson as soon as he’s cleared.
“Yeah, Anthony is our guy,’’ he said. “He’s our starting quarterback.
“. . . a ton of respect for Gardner and what he does on a week-in and week-out basis. I couldn’t be more thankful that he’s here and what he’s done for this football team, but if Anthony is ready to go, he’ll go.’’
End of discussion.
What’s up?: Taylor has missed three of the four required games after being placed on the reserve-physically unable to perform list (PUP) Aug. 29 with his right ankle issue. The Rams game makes No. 4.
What’s next?: A five-week window for Taylor’s possible return opens next week. Once he passes a physical and begins practicing, the clock starts ticking on a three-week window for the Colts to add him to the 53-player roster or leave him on PUP. The NFL’s 2021 rushing champion can be added to the active roster at any point during that five-week stretch.
Or Taylor could be traded.
If the team decides to leave Taylor on PUP, he receives his $4.3 million salary, but the final year of his rookie contract tolls.
What’s up, coach?: Steichen has declined to elaborate on Taylor’s situation in the past couple of weeks, and that didn’t change Monday.
“I’m going to refrain from getting into any of that stuff with JT,’’ he said. “He’ll be off PUP in a couple of weeks and I’ll take questions about it.’’
Steichen’s reference to “a couple of weeks’’ might indicate Taylor needs a week or two of practice before being added to the active roster and actually playing.
The ripple effect: Let’s forget about the deterioration of the player/team relationship over the past four or five months. This is about how Taylor’s return could impact the offense. In a word: significantly.
Anyone who doesn’t believe the 24-year-old Taylor is one of the NFL’s top-5 running backs – maybe top-3 – has an axe to grind with the 2020 second-round draft pick.
“JT’s a helluva player. Everyone knows that, right?’’ Moss said Monday.
If Taylor rejoins the Colts, no player will be more impacted than Moss. In his last six games, he took over feature-back responsibilities from an injured Taylor and, well, ran with it: 544 yards on 117 attempts (4.6).
After missing the opener while fully recovering from a broken forearm, Moss has 210 yards on 48 carries (4.4). He’s the NFL’s No. 8-ranked rusher despite missing week 1, and was a relentless force against the Ravens with 30 carries and 122 yards, both career highs.
Moss embraced the Nov. 1 trade from Buffalo to Indy. He insisted his skillset wasn’t a good fit with the Bills.
“Change is good, right?’’ Moss said.
Now, he could face a change in his role. Might things work out again?
“I’m sure they will,’’ Moss said. “At the end of the day, my job is to be ready when my number’s called. So, doesn’t matter how many times my number’s called. It’s what I’m going to do with those opportunities.
“It’s not going to be any negativity obviously when he comes back. It wasn’t like that anyways last year. He’s a great guy.
“I’m happy to go get back out there with him in this style offense. One, it keeps him healthy, keeps myself healthy throughout a year like this. As long as those things are (resulting) in wins, I don’t really think no one cares what the stats look like, what the carries look like as long as we’re coming out with a W.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @mchappell51.