Four colts Running backs had at least five carries in the preseason opener at Indianapolis last week Buffalo,

jake funk and fifth round rookie evan hull There were seven pieces. deon jackson had six carries and kenyan drake There were five.

It offered a glimpse of what the Colts’ run game could look like in 2023.

star Jonathan TaylorIts status in Indianapolis is uncertain at all. He has been on the physically unable to perform list since reporting to camp on July 25, having surgically repaired his ankle, an injury that has kept him out of action since the spring. has been kept away. His trade request still stands amid a contract dispute with the Colts. Taylor is slated to earn about $4.3 million in the final year of his rookie contract and is seeking a lucrative extension, which is not moving forward. He skipped the camp for the second time in a week on Wednesday, giving the excuse of absence due to a personal matter.

Against the backdrop of all this, the Colts could take a back-by-committee approach in 2023.

Indianapolis’ No. 2 Choice, jack moss, has also been sidelined. He broke his hand in the first padded training camp practice last month and is expected to be out until the regular season.

“We have some young guys in the room, but everyone is stepping up,” Jackson told the running backs room last month. “Everyone is putting pressure on each other. Everyone is being competitive. Everyone is holding each other accountable.

“It’s just that in our room. There’s no extra competition. There’s no ego in our room. We’re all pressuring each other to make more and more plays because we know that’s what a group needs.” All of us are needed in this. We are all just being allies.”

If Taylor’s absence continues into the regular season, it will not be easy for the Colts to replace him. A healthy Taylor has proven to be one of the league’s best running backs. In 2021, his last full season, he had the most prolific rushing season in Colts history – 332 carries for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns – en route to first-team All-Pro honors.

Taking the side of Jonathan Taylor or Colts owner Jim Irsay in the contract dispute?

In the seven games last season in which Taylor played at least 75% of his snaps, he was third in the league in rush attempts (21 per game), rushing yards (656) and broken tackles, and average yards after contact. I was in the top-10. According to FTN data. This came despite the Colts’ regression in run blocking from 2021 to 2022.

Last year, Indianapolis was 22nd in adjusted line yards (4.32), which provides offensive-line responsibility on all running back carries, and was 29th in power success rate (58%) on third- and fourth-downs. represents the rate of run. According to Football Outsiders, a first down or touchdown occurred from two yards or less.

The guard said, “He is tied to the yoke.” quenton nelson said of Taylor earlier this month. “He can crush you. He can outrun you. He can mock you. He brings a lot to the table.”

Jackson is expected to play a bigger role in 2023. Besides Moss, he is the top returning backup from the year before. Jackson had 68 carries for 236 yards and a touchdown in 16 games last season. He was Indianapolis’ leading rusher in the preseason opener, recording six carries for 35 yards (5.8 yards average). He has been trying to be a more vocal presence in the running back room this season.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter says Hull’s training camp has also been good. The rookie was a threat as a runner and pass-catcher. northwesternWith 913 rushing and 546 receiving yards for the Wildcats last season.

“People are really locked into very good practices,” Cooter said earlier this week on Tailback. “At the running back position, there are multiple running backs on the field at any given time in this league, so when you get those opportunities, it’s great to take advantage of them. And those guys are doing a good job.

“The backs really had to work in security [in Buffalo],” Cooter continued. “There were some really good examples of some blitz pick-ups that I thought some of the young backs had, which is encouraging. And made some really nice finishing runs in the red zone to score some touchdowns.”

New coach Shane Steichen’s scheme could also open up the run game. He is expected to develop an option offense that will play off the rookie quarterback’s strengths Anthony Richardson4 overall pick, similar to Steichen’s pick in Philadelphia jalen hurts,

Are the Colts making a mistake starting rookie QB Anthony Richardson?

Eagles‘According to FTN data, last year the offense ran the RPO 14% of the time, which is the most in the NFL and much higher than the league average of 5%. Making a great comeback, playing for Steichen in 2022 miles sanders According to FTN, no contact occurred on 10% of his runs. By comparison, Taylor had no contact on only 1% of his runs last season.

Richardson should also bolster the Colts’ offensive line this season. In 2022, his lone season as a starter FloridaHe rushed 103 times for 654 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games. He broke up 21% of his tackles on designed runs and scrambles in 2022, leading among FBS quarterbacks.

Ultimately, though, it’s hard to imagine how effective the Colts’ run game would be without Taylor, the focal point of Indianapolis’ offense since he was drafted in 2020.

“Every running back we have, we have to account for that,” Nelson said earlier this month. ,[They’re] Waiting for the opportunity and working really hard every day here.

“The engine keeps running.”

Will it work?

Ben Arthur is the AFC South reporter for Fox Sports. He previously worked for the Tennessean/USA Today network, where he was a Titans beat writer for a year and a half. He covered the Seattle Seahawks for three seasons (2018–20) for before moving to Tennessee. You can follow Ben on Twitter @benyarthur,

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