Colts’ notebook: Jonathan Taylor comes up with keepsake, 100 yards, win in Lucas Oil

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – SEPTEMBER 20: Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball as Austin Cutting #58 of the Minnesota Vikings makes the tackle from behind during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 20, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – Jonathan Taylor’s trophy room just got a tad more crowded.

The latest entry: the football from his first NFL touchdown.

An individual reminder from the Indianapolis Colts’ 28-11 win over the Minnesota Vikings included Taylor’s 5-yard TD run in the second quarter. There will be no cosmetic alterations to the keepsake.

“You’ve just gotta keep the original and don’t get it painted, nothing,’’ he said. “You just keep it raw and organic.

“That’s something you stow away.’’

The same could be said for Taylor’s first NFL start. But instead of stuffing it in the bottom of a closet, you should sit back and admire it.

Forced into a feature-back role after Marlon Mack suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the opening loss at Jacksonville, Taylor responded by piling up 101 yards on 26 attempts. He’s the first Colts’ rookie to crack the 100-yard mark since Vick Ballard in 2012.

“He ran the stew out of it today,’’ Philip Rivers said.

The game plan was to re-establish the ground game against the Vikings after having just 22 attempts in the opener. With Mack out, that meant a heavy workload for Taylor.

The second-round draft pick prepared himself for a busy Sunday during the week, and that never deviated during the game.

“You kind of understand the tone of the game and you understand what you have to do,’’ Taylor said. “You get a feel for the game and you understand, ‘OK, we’ve gotta set the line of scrimmage up front and we’ve got to make sure we establish the run.’’

Taylor had 11 carries for 45 yards on the opening 16-play drive and 18 by halftime. His first-half load was tied for the fourth-most carries in team history; Edgerrin James logged 19 first-half carries three times in his Hall of Fame career.

On a personal level, Taylor was making his third appearance in Lucas Oil Stadium. The two previous ones with Wisconsin ended in losses in the Big Ten championship game.

“Finally getting a win in Lucas Oil, that feels good,’’ Taylor said. “Have to get another one to tie it up and another one to break the score.’’

More serious injuries

After losing Mack to a season-ending injury in the opener, the Colts might have lost two more front-line players Sunday.

Wideout Parris Campbell suffered an injury to his left knee on the second play of the game and safety Malik Hooker sustained an Achilles injury in the second quarter. Also, linebacker Matthew Adams suffered an ankle injury and safety Xavier Rhodes’ availability was limited by cramps.

The team won’t know the severity of the injuries to Campbell and Hooker until magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests are taken.

“No word yet, but man, it hurts,’’ Frank Reich said of Campbell’s injury. “I’m hoping for the best, but you saw it.’’

On Campbell’s 7-yard catch-and-run to the right and in front of the Colts’ bench, Vikings safety Harrison Smith came in low and whacked his left knee. Campbell immediately grabbed the knee. He was taken off the field on a cart.

Reich quickly went out to check on Campbell.

“It didn’t look good to be honest with you,’’ he said. “It happened right in front of me. It did not look good, but hoping and praying for the best. I love Parris.

“For two weeks . . . to have Marlon and Parris go down like this . . . these are two great football players and two class acts.’’

The knee injury is the latest in a long line of injuries to Campbell. His rookie season was impeded by a hamstring, hernia surgery, a broken hand and a broken foot. In training camp, he suffered a concussion while being involved in a car accident.

Prior to the game, cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was a surprise inactive. He reported to Lucas Oil Stadium intending to play, but developed a stomach issue. He immediately left the stadium and was being evaluated at a local hospital.

More from Mo

Much was expected from Mo Alie-Cox with Trey Burton on IR with a calf injury and Jack Doyle inactive with ankle and knee injuries.

He delivered. Alie-Cox finished with five catches and 111 yards, both career highs. The former basketball standout at VCU entered the game with 17 catches, 246 yards and 2 touchdowns in 26 games.

“With Mo Alie-Cox, I give Chris Ballard a lot of credit,’’ Reich said. “I remember when I first got here him telling me about this former basketball player that we had at tight end that he really thought was going to develop into a big-time player in this league.

“We’ve just seen that. It’s been a gradual development for Mo.’’

With Doyle out, it was going to be business as usual in Reich’s tight ends-centric offense.

“Philip let us know us know right way,’’ Reich said. “He let me and Nick (Sirianni, offensive coordinator) know right away how much confidence he has in Mo and not hold anything back.

“Phil likes throwing to those big targets. Mo’s a big man.’’

Rivers agreed.

“Mo is a big man,’’ he said. “He’s a big man in street clothes. You see him in the uniform and he stands out.’’

Alie-Cox is listed at 6-5, 267 pounds.

His career day started out on a sour note. The Colts’ opening drive ended inside the Minnesota 10-yard line when Rivers’ pass to Alie-Cox went off his hands and ricocheted to linebacker Eric Wilson for an interception.

“I’ve just gotta extend my hands,’’ said Alie-Cox, who was tightly covered by safety Harrison Smith. “I kinda lost it. When I turned, I couldn’t really see it. By the time I found it, it was already on me and the defender just made a great play.’’

“I didn’t see that as a flat-out drop by any means,’’ Rivers said. “That was a contested play.’’

All of Alie-Cox’s production came after the interception.

“Coming back from it, shoot, just flush it down the toilet,’’ he said. “We can’t let that one negative play impact the rest of the game.’’

Alie-Cox’s first career 100-yard receiving game complemented Taylor’s first 100-yard rushing game. It marked the first time since Dec. 17, 2010 against Washington the Colts had a 100-yard rusher and receiver in the same game (Joseph Addai and Pierre Garcon).

.Blackmon debut

The injury to Hooker led to serious playing time for rookie Julian Blackmon. The rookie third-round pick saw his first action of the season and finished with two tackles and two passes defensed. One of the deflections led to Khari Willis’ interception.

Blackmon’s progress has been gradual as he’s been in rehab mode after he tore an ACL in December. He had yet to go through a full practice.

“One of the coaches talked to me and he said, ‘This is your rookie debut and you’re going to remember it either way, so might as well make it great,’’’ Blackmon said. “That kinda stuck with me.

“I just wanted to make an impact and help my team win.’’

“The competitor in him just showed up today,’’ Reich said.

This and that

The defense limited the Vikings to 175 total yards. That’s the fewest yards it has allowed since limiting Cincinnati to 135 yards Oct. 19, 2014.

Rookie wideout Michael Pittman Jr. finished with four catches for 37 yards. Consider it a case of quality over quantity. Two of his early catches produced important first downs.

Veteran wideout T.Y. Hilton has yet to go off. He had three catches for 28 yards, and dropped what would have been a 45-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Hilton suffered two costly drops in the opening loss at Jacksonville.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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