Watch the Indianapolis Colts take on the New England Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.30pm Sunday, with kick-off at 2.30pm; the San Francisco 49ers then face the Jacksonville Jaguars from 6pm followed by the Detroit Lions at Los Angeles Chargers
Last Updated: 11/11/23 6:10pm
Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor says his delayed start to the season felt “like a car crash” as he looks to take another step back towards top form in Sunday’s clash with the New England Patriots in Frankfurt.
Taylor agreed a three-year, $42m contract extension with the Colts in early October having spent the first four games of the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
His return came after a tricky offseason that had seen him request a trade on July 29 amid stalled negotiations heading into the final year of his rookie deal, all while continuing his recovery from offseason surgery on the ankle injury that ended his season in Week 15 last year.
The 2021 rushing leader eventually made his seasonal debut in the Week Five victory over the Tennessee Titans.
“It’s amazing when you can get back to doing what you love after being removed from it for an extended period of time,” Taylor told Sky Sports NFL’s Neil Reynolds. “Not only doing what I love but doing it with who I love, we work day in, day out.
“It’s a shock to the body when you first get back, it’s almost like simulating a car crash and it’s like ‘I haven’t felt that in a while’.
“After you recover from that first week your body adapts and you start to feel better. You can’t simulate it. There’s nothing like an actual game of football, you just prepare the best you can.”
Taylor has since shared time in the backfield with Zack Moss, who sits second in the league with 615 rushing yards alongside his five touchdown runs as one of the bright spots in Shane Steichen’s offense.
His return has eased the burden somewhat on Taylor’s return, the 2020 second-round pick still yet to break 100 yards in a game this season.
“It’s been about having that communication with him, so when he’s out there and rips off a big run he can come back to the sideline and I’ll ask ‘what run was that, how did they play it?’,” Taylor added.
“To have that communication and to bounce off each other, when you go into the game you have a pre-determination so you can attack it a certain way.”
Neutrals, analysts and those affiliated with the Colts alike drooled at the prospect of Taylor and quarterback Anthony Richardson spearheading Steichen’s multi-layered RPO system.
Those optics were put on hold until next year as rookie first-round pick Richardson was required to undergo season-ending shoulder injury.
In the meantime, Taylor is tasked with laying the foundations for his team-mate’s eventual return, meaning rediscovering the rhythm that saw him dice rival defenses in his second year.
“No 1, it’s a very instinctive position,” he said of the running-back position. “But if you want to take it to the next level and become one of those elite and legendary backs, they all have a game plan.
“They all watch the tape all week and understand their opponent and know if they play fast or slow, so you can manipulate the tempo against certain schemes.”
The Colts arrive into Sunday’s game sitting 4-5 following last weekend’s 27-13 win over the Carolina Panthers, fuelled by two pick-sixes from Kenny Moore II. For their opponents, questions continue to loom over the future of head coach Bill Belichick as his Patriots enter with an AFC-worst record of 2-7.
It marks the final international game of the season on the back of last weekend’s thriller between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins and three consecutive London games.
“It’s going to be surreal, to be able to play the game we love in another country and show the fans how much we love the game, how seriously we take it,” said Taylor.
“Being able to entertain the fans is going to be a surreal moment.”
Join Neil Reynolds, Phoebe Schecter and Jason Bell for build-up from 1.30pm ahead of kick-off at 2.30pm in Frankfurt, live on Sky Sports NFL.