INDIANAPOLIS – When the Indianapolis Colts offense lined up against the Buffalo Bills Saturday, fans didn’t see Jonathan Taylor in the backfield.
Get used to it.
Taylor won’t play a single snap in the preseason. Against Buffalo, Nyheim Hines assumed duties as the team’s starting running back.
Taylor participated in the pregame workout but didn’t see any game action. He’ll also sit out the Detroit Lions preseason game on Aug. 20 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tilt on Aug. 27.
The first time fans will see Taylor with the starting offense in a game situation will be the regular season opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 11.
Colts coach Frank Reich said he and general manager Chris Ballard talked about keeping Taylor on the sidelines during the preseason. Reich believes the team’s top running back has looked good during training camp.
“I feel like we’re getting good work in practice versus our defense,” Reich said, according to our Mike Chappell. “We’ll get good work this week against the Lions; he’ll get to see a different defensive scheme and players. We’ll thud that up a little bit. So, he’ll get some work there and I think that’ll be enough to get him ready.”
You can’t blame the Colts for protecting Taylor during the preseason. The running back was one of the biggest stories of the 2021-2022 season, rushing for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also caught 40 passes for 360 yards and a pair of scores.
Keeping Taylor out of the preseason should reduce some wear and tear—and protect him from injury risk in games that have little meaning in the long run.
There was an interesting sidenote involving Taylor’s lack of playing time at Highmark Stadium; the running back had a career day at the site on Nov. 21, 2021, when he broke out for 185 yards and 5 touchdowns in an eye-popping performance against a very good Bills defense. The Colts went on to win 41-15.
As for the rest of the starters, don’t expect them to play against the Detroit Lions next Saturday. The Colts hold joint practices with the Lions on Wednesday and Thursday, and that means the first stringers will get plenty of chances to hit and be hit, earning them a rest for the second preseason game.
The starters will see significant time against Tampa Bay in the preseason finale on Aug. 27. Just don’t expect to see Taylor among them.