INDIANAPOLIS – Deon Jackson, you’re up.
Jonathan Taylor has been ruled out of the Indianapolis Colts’ Sunday road test against the New England Patriots, opening the door for Jackson to make his second career start.
Taylor was held out of practice this week after aggravating an injury to his right ankle in last Sunday’s loss to Washington. It’s the same injury that forced him to miss two games earlier this season.
“Thought we had a chance that it would progress a little bit better than it did this week,’’ coach Frank Reich said Friday. “But it didn’t, so we have to be smart. We’re going to do what’s right for the player, what’s right for the team.
“Excited for the increased opportunity that Deon will have. The last opportunity he had like this – where he was the guy – he looked good.’’
Jackson carried the load in the week 6-7 wins at Denver and Jacksonville. Taylor missed each game with the ankle issue, and Nyheim Hines was forced from the Broncos game after three plays with a concussion.
An odd stat: the Colts are 2-0 this season without their offensive catalyst.
Taylor’s inactivity this week enabled Jackson, who signed with the Colts in 2021 as an undrafted rookie out of Duke, to handle the running back reps with the starting offense. That’s huge during the week of preparation.
“It’s just a little extra that goes into it when you know you’re part of the game plan,’’ he said. “It kind of enhances my preparation process of how I go into the week.
“I’m very in-tuned with the game plan and I’m just going to go out there and execute what we planned this week.’’
At Denver, Jackson posted career highs with 62 yards on 13 rushes and four receptions for 29 yards.
In his first start the next week against Jacksonville, Jackson’s role changed. He managed 42 yards and one touchdown on 12 attempts, but caught 10 passes for 79 yards as quarterback Matt Ryan passed 58 times for 389 yards and three TDs in the 34-27 win over the Jaguars.
Jackson’s comfort in the passing game could lessen the impact of Hines being traded to Buffalo this week.
“I learned a lot from Nyheim when he was here, so I’m just going to carry on and build on what he taught me,’’ Jackson said.
The Colts are expected to make at least one, perhaps two roster moves to provide depth behind Jackson. That would consist of elevating Phillip Lindsay and perhaps Jordan Wilkins to the active roster.
Along with Taylor, Reich ruled out quarterback Matt Ryan (right shoulder), cornerback Tony Brown (hamstring) and linebacker Grant Stuard (pec).
Defensive end Kwity Paye will return after missing the last three games with a high sprain to his right ankle.
“Kwity will be ready to go,’’ Reich said. “We’ll just monitor it as we go.’’
Linebacker Shaquille Leonard will remain on a pitch count in his second game back after missing three games with a concussion and broken nose.
Left tackle Dennis Kelly (ankle/calf) was limited Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday. He’ll be a game-time decision.
If Kelly is unable to play, rookie Bernhard Raimann will make his third career start.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.