Injuries created major questions surrounding the Indianapolis Colts ahead of the 2021 season. One thing not in question: Jonathan Taylor playing a big role in Frank Reich's offense.
After struggling early in his rookie campaign, the running back hit his stride down the stretch, compiling 741 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 119 attempts in the final six regular-season games. Averaging 123.5 rushing yards per tilt over that span and 6.23 yards per rush, Taylor showed he's a bulldozer with the speed to run away from defensive backs.
Joining NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Wednesday, Taylor said the excellent finish to the season has helped him prepare for an even better 2021.
"It really primed me, catapulted me into the offseason, understanding that that's going to be the expectations now from my coaches and teammates," he said. "You put those things on film. They say your film is your resume. So now that my teammates are expecting it out of me, my coaches are catapulting me into the offseason to continue working and training to try and come into this training camp being able to be prepared and pick up where I left off."
The return of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines seeing increased snaps could put some damper on Taylor's expectations. However, everything we've seen and heard from Colts camp this summer indicates that the second-year RB will see the lion's share of the snaps, barring injury.
A bigger issue than the crowded backfield when projecting Taylor to have a season that rivals the best in the game is questions along the offensive line, which has dealt with injuries throughout the early part of camp. The biggest news was star guard Quenton Nelson having foot surgery that could have him out for the first chunk of the season.
Taylor, however, boasted that while missing Nelson would be enormous, he doesn't believe it would sink the rushing attack.
"Quenton is an amazing player," Taylor said. "He's probably the best guard in the National Football League, but the entire line, the guys that we have up front ... our entire line upfront, those guys are super smart, and those guys are very, very talented and gifted physically. So I would have to deny those allegations, deny those claims because the room that we have up front is incredible."
The other significant injury news this offseason in Indy came to quarterback Carson Wentz, who also underwent foot surgery and could miss the start of the season. Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger began splitting first-team reps during camp on Tuesday.
"One of the biggest things is that we knew these guys could play," Taylor said of the young QBs. "We got Sam for a reason, and last year Jacob, we got Jacob for a reason last year. You can see the arm that Jacob has on them. They've both been competing, playing well in training camp. Some of the plays these guys have made, you're like that's an NFL-caliber quarterback right there. It's really exciting to watch those three guys go at it."
If either young signal-caller is forced to play the first game or two of the season while Wentz rehabs, Taylor and the other running backs will be that much more vital if Indy hopes to avoid falling behind in the AFC South.