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INDIANAPOLIS – Putting his film hat on, Darius Leonard is seeing the growth in Jonathan Taylor.

From consecutive November games with just 6 and then 7 carries, averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, to now being the hottest running back in the NFL not named Derrick Henry.

Any current ranking of NFL running backs would have Henry atop the list and then Taylor better be next up on the list.

The incredible close to the 2020 campaign by Taylor comes from a rookie hitting some adversity and rising from just that.

“The thing about (Taylor) that makes him so good, if you watch his runs early in the season and watch his runs now, watch how much better his vision and his contact and everything is,” Leonard explains. “He learned from every mistake that he had and that’s what makes him great and you saw it (against the Jaguars). It looked like he was back playing in the backyard. He was just running for 250 (yards). That’s just unreal. That just shows that he is getting better each week and hopefully he continues to get better.

“I was just telling someone that’s what makes a playoff team great. You’ve got a great run game and a good defense. That’s what makes a good playoff team so hopefully we can put those things together and make a run.”

Taylor’s run to close this 2020 season is remarkable:

  • He’s rushed for at least 74 yards in 6 straight games. That’s the longest in-season streak for a running back since Ezekiel Elliott in 2018.
  • Taylor has 741 rushing yards since Week 11 (7 games played). Only Henry has more in that span (1,081 yards in 8 games).
  • Taylor finished this season with 35 runs of at least 10 yards. That ranked 3rd in the NFL and was a key part of why the Colts believed he was worthy of the 41st overall pick.

From the onset of the Colts must win Week 17 game on Sunday to get into the playoffs, they leaned on their rookie runner.

Taylor finished with 30 carries for a franchise-record 253 yards, including the game-sealing 45-yard TD run with 3:35 remaining.

“This is such a big game, an important game and he has been in beast mode,” Reich said after Taylor easily eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark of the season.

“J.T. thought it was Wisconsin today,” fellow running back Nyheim Hines said after Sunday’s win over the Jaguars. “That was ‘Badger J.T.’

“If we can ride that wave and keep it going, then we are going to have a lot of success. Just watching him grow over the year, trying to help him out and be in his ear and help him out, it is really cool for me to see him keep taking steps and steps and steps throughout the year – a shoestring tackle here, a shoestring tackle there and (Sunday) he was getting through those things. Like I said, I am really proud to watch him. Excited to watch him keep growing in his young career. He is a really, really great player, so I’m excited to watch him keep growing.”

Seeing Taylor finish with these rookies numbers wouldn’t have been the most shocking thing back in August, but it would have been had you seen where he was at in mid-November.

But now, good luck finding hotter players in the NFL than Taylor.