1701253585 Jim Irsay Colts Jonathan Taylor to undergo thumb surgery with

Jim Irsay: Colts’ Jonathan Taylor to undergo thumb surgery, with possible return in two to three weeks – The Athletic

Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor will undergo thumb surgery Wednesday in Los Angeles with the hope of returning in two to three weeks, team owner Jim Irsay told The Athletic. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Taylor suffered the injury in the Colts’ win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, which was his best game of the year. He finished the season with 15 carries for 91 yards and a season-high two touchdowns.
  • “Hopefully it’s only two weeks, but time will tell,” Irsay said. “At this point there is just a lack of confidence in control (of the ball) and hand strength, so the decision was made to move forward in that direction.”
  • The 2021 Pro Bowler missed the first four games of the season because he was on the physically unable to perform list due to an ankle injury from last year. Taylor made his season debut in Week 5 and started five of the seven games he played.
  • Taylor’s loss could significantly impact the Colts’ chances of staying in the postseason. Indianapolis plays at Tennessee on Sunday. The Colts have won three games in a row and hold the final spot in the AFC playoffs at 6-5.

Operation details

According to Irsay, Taylor’s surgery will be performed by Dr. Steven S. Shin, an orthopedic hand surgeon based in Los Angeles. Shin has previously performed thumb surgeries on other star professional athletes such as former New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees, Golden State Warriors point guard Chris Paul and Anaheim Angels outfielder Mike Trout.

What this means for the Colts

Indianapolis is slowly inching toward its first playoff berth since 2020 despite numerous obstacles, but if Taylor is sidelined for an extended period of time, it could be a blow the team can’t recover from. Promising rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5, and a quadriceps injury has sidelined rookie cornerback JuJu Brents the last four games.

Due to injuries, the Colts’ starting offensive line has only played one game together this year, and starting defensive lineman Grover Stewart has one game remaining due to a six-game PED suspension.

Indianapolis still found a way to win and has a favorable schedule in its last six games. The best quarterback the Colts will face in that span is Houston Texans standout rookie CJ Stroud, but one can wonder how limited the Indianapolis offense will be without its best playmaker and even more pressure on the backup quarterback Gardner Minshew would be.

Zack Moss shined in the Colts backfield when Taylor was sidelined earlier in the year, and while Taylor is unavailable, he will be relied upon again. Although Moss has taken a back seat to Taylor in recent weeks, he still ranks 10th in the NFL with 672 rushing yards on 141 carries and five touchdowns. Moss has two 100-yard rushing games this year, including a career-high 165 yards, which ironically came when Taylor made his season debut in Week 5.

The only other running back on Indianapolis’ active roster is Trey Sermon. The 2021 third-round pick, who the Colts signed in September, has totaled just 51 carries for 210 yards and one touchdown in his NFL career. Sermon has eight carries for 24 yards this year and hasn’t had another rush since Week 4.

What this means for Taylor

This thumb injury comes just as Taylor is entering his superstar form. Sunday’s game marked his first two-TD performance since 2021, the same year he won the league rushing title and was named first-team All-Pro. While an injury obviously isn’t ideal for Taylor or the team, that’s exactly why Taylor and his rep fought so hard to get him a three-year, $42 million contract extension with $26.5 million guaranteed receives, which he signed one day before his season debut.

Taylor is well aware of the shrinking running back market and didn’t want to risk his health in the final year of his rookie contract without being rewarded first. Irsay admitted that he paid Taylor earlier than he wanted, and if Taylor hadn’t forced the issue and gotten injured for the second straight year, Indianapolis probably would have awarded him a franchise player.

The Colts rewarded Taylor with a new contract not only because he’s a great player when healthy, but also because he and Richardson could potentially accomplish something together. Unfortunately, Richardson underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in October, and Indianapolis could once again be without its starting QB and running back. Although Taylor has already signed a new contract that makes him one of the highest paid at his position, Taylor would likely be happy to forget this year if he is forced to miss a significant amount of time.

Four months ago, he found himself in a stalemate with the franchise after not being offered a contract extension and requested a move despite being sidelined by an ankle injury that plagued him throughout last season. The question in the room was whether Taylor, who missed all of training camp while on the PUP list, used his injury to influence his contract negotiations. Taylor and general manager Chris Ballard later insisted that Taylor was indeed injured, and cooler heads ultimately prevailed when Taylor signed a contract extension in October.

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(Photo: Marc Lebryk / USA Today)