The Indianapolis Colts won’t have their best player available when they host the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night, but they will have a new starting quarterback.
Jonathan Taylor, the leading rusher in the NFL last season, went down with a high ankle sprain early in a 39-36 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday and was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday, ending his season.
Taylor, who rushed for 1,811 yards last season, 552 more than the next closest running back, was initially injured late in Indianapolis’ loss to the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 2 and missed the next two games.
Taylor re-injured the ankle in another loss to Tennessee on Oct. 23 and sat out a game against the New England Patriots in early November.
He went down again on his first touch against Minnesota on Saturday and was not around to see the Colts blow a 33-0 halftime lead, the biggest collapse in NFL history.
Indianapolis (4-9-1) has lost four straight games overall, going 18-for-59 (30.5 percent) on third down in that span. The stagnant offense prompted interim coach Jeff Saturday to bench Matt Ryan and name Nick Foles the starting quarterback for the final three games.
“This is never an easy decision,” Saturday said. “I think the world of Matt and he’s a pro’s pro and I appreciate the way he’s handled it. Obviously, not the season he expected, nor the Colts as a whole. Feel bad for Matt, but ultimately, I feel Nick gives us the best chance to win.”
Ryan has more than twice as many touchdown passes (381) as interceptions (183) in his 15-year NFL career, but he has 14 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions this season.
Foles won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018-19 after replacing injured Carson Wentz in Week 14.
Chargers All-Pro safety Derwin James returned to practice on Thursday and was listed as limited on the injury report.
James sustained a quad injury in a loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 4 and missed the past two games.
“We expect to play better with one of the top players in the league out there,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “I think that will be a great infusion of leadership, production and energy.”
Staley said it’s satisfying that the Chargers have been able to win the past two games without James, but there’s a noticeable difference when he’s not on the field.
“One of the few defensive players that, when he is not in the game, we don’t have a very good record without him,” Staley said. “Our record got a little bit better, which, I think, is a good sign for our football team.”
Despite the collapse last weekend by the Colts, Staley said they aren’t a team to overlook.
“Indianapolis was up 33-0 last week in an NFL game,” Staley said. “That’s very difficult to do. The reason why they were is because they have a lot of good players and they have a lot of good coaches.”
The Chargers enter the weekend as the sixth seed in the AFC and can clinch a playoff berth with a win against Indianapolis and losses by the New York Jets, Raiders and Patriots.
Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa did not practice on Thursday and it does not appear he’ll be ready to return from a groin injury that has kept him out since Week 3. Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler appears to have avoided injury after an MRI on his shoulder came back negative.
Chargers cornerback Kemon Hall (hamstring) did not practice Thursday. Indianapolis corner Kenny Moore II (ankle) and tight end Kylen Granson (ankle) missed practice Thursday.
–Field Level Media