INDIANAPOLIS – Nyheim Hines’ serenade might have been a tad off key, but struck an optimistic chord.
Welcome back, JT. Welcome back, JT.
Jonathan Taylor didn’t sing along, but neither did he pan Hines’ refrain.
“Definitely welcome back,’’ he said Thursday afternoon.
Taylor has missed the last two games after spraining his right ankle in the Indianapolis Colts’ week 4 loss to the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. He practiced on a limited basis twice last week but realized he wasn’t ready to return for last Sunday’s game with Jacksonville.
“You just know when you’re not right,’’ Taylor said. “You just know your body; I’m not moving the right way. You just know those things.
“You’re just not ready. That’s why this week, I’m happy.’’
He was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice and a full-go Thursday. That’s in stark contrast to last week.
“Felt kind of good, so hopefully we keep continuing in the right direction,’’ Taylor said prior to Thursday’s work. “I’m excited.
“Feeling good. It’s always a positive sign when you can go out there and feel like yourself. Us being professional athletes, when you go out there and not feel like yourself, it’s the worst.
“It was fun getting back out there, going through the drills. That’s just something you miss. It’s the process over the results.’’
There’s every chance Taylor and Hines are available for Sunday’s rematch with the Titans in Nashville. Hines still must be cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol – he sustained a concussion in the week 5 win at Denver – but was a full participant Wednesday and Thursday.
“That’s what we’re trying to do,’’ Taylor said. “We’re trying to be at full strength. It sucks when the room is not at full strength, but we’re proud because the rest of the running back room is able to hold it down and able to play at a high level.
In the 12-9 overtime win at Denver, Deon Jackson led the Colts with 62 yards on 13 carries and another 29 yards on four receptions. Phillip Lindsay added 40 yards on 11 rushes.
In last Sunday’s 34-27 win over Jacksonville, Jackson again was a focal point: 42 yards and one TD on 12 rushes, 10 receptions for 79 yards.
“I’m excited that the world got to finally see Deon and everything that he’s been working towards,’’ Taylor said. “He did a great job. We knew it, but the world got to see it.’’
Perhaps, but if the Colts are going to get their running game untracked, they need to tap into Taylor and Hines.
The run game ranks 29th in yards per game (83.7) and 30th in yards per attempt (3.5).
After leading the NFL and setting a franchise record with 1,811 yards last season, Taylor ranks 22nd in rushing with 328 yards on 81 attempts in four games. Since opening the season with 161 yards at Houston, he’s averaged 55.7 yards per game and 3.3 yards per attempt.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.