WESTFIELD – It must be a running back thing.
A return to Westfield’s Grand Park Sports Campus practice fields Monday for the Indianapolis Colts resulted in more news regarding what has been the positional epicenter of training camp.
No, we’re not talking about Jonathan Taylor.
Zack Moss, who’s in the midst of a solid camp in Taylor’s tumultuous absence, suffered a broken right forearm during 11-on-11 work, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. He slammed his helmet to the ground and eventually was escorted off the field by trainers.
Moss could miss up to six weeks.
That further thins the running back room and might result in the team adding another player at the position.
First-year coach Shane Steichen insisted he’s “excited’’ about the position.
“It’s a solid group,’’ he said. “Smart, young guys in there.’’
That assessment was made before Steichen learned of the severity of Moss’ injury.
In the aftermath, the Colts move forward with four healthy backs: Deon Jackson, Jake Funk, Evan Hull and Zavier Scott. Hull and Scott are rookies while Funk was a seventh-round pick of the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. He rushed twice for 5 yards in 10 games as a rookie with the Rams and appeared in one game with the Colts last season.
Jackson represents the only back with meaningful experience: 267 yards and two touchdowns in 25 games, two as a starter. The Colts signed him as an undrafted rookie in May 2021.
Now, Jackson sits atop the depth chart until Moss recovers or the messy impasse with Taylor is resolved.
“I’m just taking advantage of the reps that I’m getting,’’ he said. “I kind of dealt with the same kind of thing last year. I got thrust into a place where I had to play.’’
Taylor missed the Colts’ week 5 trip to Denver with a high sprain to his right ankle, and the Colts started veteran journeyman and former Bronco Phillip Lindsay.
But it was Jackson who made the biggest impact. After being on the field for just two offensive snaps in the first four games, he handled 46 plays and responded with a team-high 62 rushing yards on 13 carries. The next week against Jacksonville, he contributed 42 yards on 12 carries and career-highs with 10 catches for 79 yards.
“Unfortunate things happen in this league,’’ Jackson said, “and when your number’s called, you’ve got to be ready to step in and contribute.
“That’s the name of the game.’’
The game also is about dealing with contractual matters and injuries.
At some point, Moss should return, perhaps in time for the Sept. 10 season opener against Jacksonville.
As for Taylor, it’s anybody’s guess when the team’s offensive catalyst will participate in practice. He remains on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and the team is considering moving him to the non-football injury list (NFI).
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, Taylor not only still is in rehab mode from January surgery on his right ankle, but also sustained some type of back injury while working out on his own in Arizona prior to camp.
Taylor was quick to refute the back issue, but there’s still no indication when the NFL’s 2021 rushing champion might practice for the first time.
Does Steichen anticipate having Taylor in the backfield at some point this season? Taylor is seeking an extension, which the team will not offer. Subsequently, he asked for a trade, which owner Jim Irsay insisted won’t be granted.
“Yeah,’’ he said. “Right now, he’s on this football team. When the medical staff clears him, he should be out here.’’
The running backs, like virtually every position, have formed a tight room. Jackson considers Taylor one of his closest friends.
“We talk to each other every day off the field, outside of the building,’’ he said. I’m just here for him. I’m just an ear for him. I’m just being supportive of him.’’
As practice unfolded Monday, Taylor watched as the other running backs went through positional drills. He seemed attentive, locked onto what they were doing.
“JT’s been coming in,’’ Jackson said. “He’s a good teammate every day. He’s in there in meetings. He’s there with us at practice. He’s helping everybody. He’s making sure everybody’s locked in.
“He’s the same person he’s always been. Nothing’s changed. He’s just not able to be out on the field right now. We’re waiting for him to come back. He’s handling his business.’’
Even though Anthony Richardson underwent a procedure Sunday to correct his nasal septum – it allowed him to breathe better – the team’s rookie quarterback was on the practice field Monday.
He didn’t participate in practice, but Richardson always was near Gardner Minshew II and Sam Ehlinger during positional work and 7-on-7 and team sessions. He spent much of his time mimicking taking a drop and going through his throwing motion.
“He was definitely in tune out there and going through his reads,’’ Steichen said.
It’s possible Richardson is cleared to practice Tuesday. Failing that, he’s expected to practice the next time the team is on the field, which is Thursday.
Steichen explained the procedure on Richardson’s nose was “something he had to get done,’’ and Sunday’s off day was deemed the best opportunity. He didn’t elaborate on why Richardson didn’t have the procedure before camp actually opened.
Reggie: Down for the count
Reggie Wayne has a hands-on approach in his role as receivers coach. Sometimes, that’s risky business.
Monday, Wayne held a blocking pad as one receiver after another hit him before making a sharp cut into his route. One receiver was especially aggressive and sent Wayne tumbling to the ground.
The receivers shared a hearty laugh as they helped him to his feet.
Will Mallory was activated from PUP. The rookie tight end suffered a foot injury during rookie minicamp. Tight end Jelani Woods is dealing with a hamstring injury while rookie offensive tackle Jake Witt missed practice with a hip injury.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.