Bad news Colts: Jaguars set to face 3rd-string RB Deon Jackson vs. Indy in the opener

• Jonathan Taylor will miss the first four games of the 2023 season

• Zack Moss, the Colts' top backup at RB, is also out

• That leaves Deon Jackson as the starter vs. the Jaguars in Week 1

Aug 12, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Deon Jackson (35).
Aug 12, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Deon Jackson (35). / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Star running back Jonathan Taylor landed on the Injured Reserve list and will miss four games to start the 2023 season. Backup Zack Moss will also be out for two or three weeks. That leaves the Indianapolis Colts down to their third-string running back, Deon Jackson, who will make the start against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the opener.

Taylor is still recovering from an ankle injury he sustained last year while Moss is recovering from wrist surgery and is expected to miss two or three games, per Aaron Wilson of KPCR 2 Houston. That leaves Jackson as the Colts' sole option to get the starting nod against Jacksonville.

The Colts won't only be short at running back. Their wide receiver corps is in less than stellar shape heading into the opener. Having released Breshad Perriman and Isaiah McKenzie during roster cutdown day, Indy's top receivers are Michael Pittman, Alec Pierce, and rookie Josh Downs. Both Pittman and Pierce are fine players but not the kind opposing defenses have to double-team in every play.

Having a subpar supporting cast will make it difficult for rookie signal-caller Anthony Richardson to succeed early on. However, head coach Doug Pederson told the media Thursday they won't take him lightly. In preparation for the game, the Jaguars coaching staff watched Richardson's college tape. Still, it's hard to see the young passer sending a shockwave in the opener.

The Jaguars are benefiting from the latest spin in the Jonathan Taylor saga

This has been a hectic few weeks for the Colts and Jonathan Taylor, who was seeking out a long-term deal and was received with a shoulder shrug. After meeting with owner Jim Irsay, the former Wisconsin Badger said he wanted to leave Indianapolis and was granted permission to seek out a trade.

Although there are a few suitors for Taylor's services, the Colts didn't get an offer to their liking and they ended up keeping the running back. Once it was clear he was going to stay put, he was placed on the short IR to start the 2023 season. This is a bit puzzling since Taylor wasn't the reason the Colts had a losing record last year. Not being fully healthy didn't certainly help.

When asked why Indy hadn't paid Taylor despite the fact that he's a great player, general manager Chris Ballard cited the team's 4-12-1 record as the reason why. However, he's probably at the bottom of the list of the reasons they were so dreadful last year, including but not limited to bringing in an aging Matt Ryan to play quarterback and hiring Jeff Saturday as the interim head coach.

Now, the Colts are without their top running back and arguably their best offensive player for the first four weeks of the 2023 season. Although it's fair to wonder how much a healthy Jonathan Taylor would tip the scale in Indy's favor, he would most likely boost their chances of winning.

For the time being, the Colts will need to lean on Deon Jackson when they face the Jaguars in the opener. Maybe they'll be just fine or maybe they'll realize they need to pay Taylor. Either way, the situation favors Jacksonville heading into the opener.

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