Stephen HolderESPN4 Minute Read
INDIANAPOLIS — Jonathan Taylor’s priority in his push for a new contract with the Indianapolis Colts was always himself. But it isn’t lost on the All-Pro running back that his new deal also is a win for other players at his position.
Taylor — one day after agreeing to a new three-year, $42 million contract that ended his acrimonious standoff with the Colts — acknowledged that his deal is a bit of a reversal of recent trends at his position.
“I definitely think it is [a shift],” Taylor said. “Anytime a running back can go out there and perform but also have some security, it just shows that running backs are essential.”
As Taylor has referenced in the past, it has been a difficult time to be an elite running back in the NFL. Players like Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs lost their bids to secure long-term deals in the offseason. But the Colts, Taylor said, provided a vivid example of the position’s value on Sunday. With Taylor playing a limited role in his first game since being activated from the physically unable to perform list, the Colts rode running back Zack Moss to defeat the Tennessee Titans 23-16.
Moss rushed for a career-high 165 yards and two touchdowns, a performance highlighted by a career-long 56-yard run in the first quarter. The win came in spite of the loss of starting quarterback Anthony Richardson to a right shoulder injury in the second quarter.
“Just being able to lean on [Moss] in order to come out with the win,” Taylor said, “I mean that last drive, I think we got the ball with like eight minutes, 55 seconds left.”
The Colts ripped off a 14-play, 84-yard drive that was capped by a 28-yard Matt Gay field goal to ice the game. Moss was responsible for 63 total yards on the possession, including a 26-yard reception and a 13-yard run.
“We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Moss said. “That’s a physical team that we were playing, and all our games, really, in this division we go against some really good, physical teams.”
Taylor had six carries for 18 yards and caught one pass for 16 yards. He saw some daylight down the right sideline after his reception and leaped over a defender before being knocked out of bounds. Taylor has participated in only two practices since returning to the lineup but thinks the combination of him and Moss has major potential once Taylor gets up to speed.
“I think it can get really scary,” he said. “You guys have been getting a taste the past few weeks. So now it’s on me in order to continue to do my part and continue to help this team.”
Taylor had not played in a game since Dec. 17, when he reinjured his right ankle and later was placed on injured reserve. He underwent surgery in January, and when he reported for training camp in July, he said the injury was still causing him pain. Now saying he’s fully healthy, Taylor reflected on the time he has missed and his sometimes-ugly fight for a new contract.
It all took a personal toll, he said.
“It weighs [on you] a lot, especially when you’re not healthy and you can’t go out there and do what you love,” Taylor said. “It is tough. It pushes you and it puts you in tough positions mentally and you’ve got to have a good support system.”
Taylor said he believes the end result was worth it. He achieved his goal and landed a new contract that seemed likelier to come after the season — if at all.
“At the end of the day, it’s always the organization’s decision,” he said. “But being able to put yourself in the best position is always the No. 1 thing you can do. And for me, that was it.”