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Indianapolis Colts running back Jonathan Taylor (28) runs against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

INDIANAPOLIS – Jonathan Taylor is no stranger to pressure.

He’s been targeted as an all-time great since his first carry of his first scrimmage during his freshman year at Wisconsin. And, more often than not, the Indianapolis Colts running back has delivered.

In his second year as a pro, Taylor enters Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets with 649 yards and six touchdowns on 121 carries, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt and adding 21 catches for 265 yards and another score.

With Tennessee Titans superstar Derrick Henry potentially sidelined for the season, a solid case can be made for Taylor as the most dangerous running back in the NFL.

With great hype comes even greater expectations – a fact the 22-year-old fully embraces.

“I don’t think there’s pressure ’cause everyone wants to be the best each and every single week,” Taylor said Tuesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “So everyone is just working to be the best every single week. So it’s no pressure ’cause everyone’s doing the same thing. It’s just who’s gonna execute, and who’s gonna actually make it happen?”

Taylor was at the center of controversy following Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss against the Titans, through no fault of his own.

During a game the Colts (3-5) never trailed by more than seven points, the 5-foot-10, 226-pound running back had just 16 carries while struggling quarterback Carson Wentz – whose two late interceptions doomed Indianapolis – dropped back to pass 52 times.

It’s in keeping with Taylor’s regular usage since being selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft. He averaged 15.5 carries per game as a rookie and sits at 15.1 through eight weeks this season.

Head coach Frank Reich has routinely been asked to defend that workload this week.

“I mean, believe me,” he said, “there’s games that I hope he gets 30, 35 touches.”

Taylor has reached 30 carries just once with Indianapolis, producing 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-14 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the final game of last year’s regular season. That win sent the Colts into the playoffs for just the second time since 2014.

Taylor’s had as many as 20 carries in just three other games – all last season. He’s averaged 113.7 yards in those contests.

That’s created a supply-demand imbalance, with fans clamoring for more of Taylor every week.

“It’s on us getting a lead late in the game and you’re in four-minute offense, and we’ve ended some games where we’ve got a six-minute drive,” Reich said of increasing Taylor’s touches. “When you’re in these back-and-forth games, I just feel like I’m going to mix it up a little bit. Even last week with whatever, he had 16 carries, and like I mentioned he had six others that were called to him that don’t go to him, he had three touches in the pass game, and then he had two other runs.

“That’s close to 25 touches right there, which is a decent day’s work. Believe me, I want to get him the ball more.”

The one person not complaining about his usage is the running back himself.

Taylor is a man of many talents. He was accepted to both Harvard and Yale before choosing Wisconsin so he could test himself in one of the nation’s best football conferences. He’s also one of the fastest players on a roster filled with speedsters, routinely pulling away from defenders for big plays.

One of his best attributes is humility. Taylor is never satisfied with his own performance and always quick to shift attention to his teammates.

Ask him about breakout wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and the running back might prattle on for several minutes. Ask about his own success, and he’ll immediately change the topic to the team.

Ask whether he should get the ball more often, and, well …

“A lot of people dream about 15 carries,” Taylor said. “A lot of offenses wish that they could get 15 carries, and especially in a pass-happy league like this. It’s all about what are you doing with your carries? Are you being efficient? Are you an efficient runner? It’s all about being an efficient passer, an efficient runner or an efficient receiver. Whatever you’re doing, just make sure you’re being efficient because that’s what’s gonna win you football games.

“And that’s our goal. That’s my goal. I want to be a winner. Everyone in this locker room wants to be a winner. So whatever amount of carries we need in order to win football games, that’s what we need to do.”

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THB sports editor George Bremer has covered the Indianapolis Colts since 2010. He occasionally sports a beard that can rival Andrew Luck's, but he lacks arm strength and durability.