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Shane Steichen will lean into 'hot hand' with Colts' running game to begin 2023 season

Deon Jackson, Evan Hull and potentially Zack Moss will form the Colts' running-back-by-committee approach in Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

The Colts will take a running-back-by-committee approach in Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium, head coach Shane Steichen said Monday. And veteran Zack Moss could – emphasis on could – be a part of that committee.

Moss sustained an arm injury early in training camp, one that came with an expected six-week recovery – a timetable that put him, potentially, on track to play Week 1 (he sustained the injury five weeks and six days from the Colts' opener). Steichen said Monday Moss is "progressing well" in his recovery; the Colts will put out official practice reports on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week.

Moss finished the 2022 season strong – he started Weeks 16-18 and averaged 5.6 yards per attempt on 45 carries in those games. Whether Moss plays on Sunday or not, though, Steichen said he and the Colts will stick by that by-committee approach to the team's running backs.

"Whoever's got the hot hand – let them ride a little bit and go with that," Steichen said. "We'll rotate those guys in, see where everyone is at."

That committee will be comprised of potentially Moss, Deon Jackson and Evan Hull, the latter of whom split the Colts' first-team snaps at running back during the preseason with Moss out and Jonathan Taylor on the PUP list.

Jackson is entering his third year with the Colts and showed some juice last year, most notably in Weeks 5 and 6 against the Denver Broncos and Jaguars (25 carries, 104 yards, 1 TD; 14 receptions, 108 yards).

"We like what Deon has done," general manager Chris Ballard said last week. "We think Deon has taken another step."

Hull was a 2023 fifth-round pick whose versatility shined during his college career at Northwestern. The 5-foot-10, 209 pound Hull, over his last two years in Evanston, rushed 417 times for 1,922 yards with 12 rushing scores and caught 88 passes for 810 yards with 16 receiving touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said last month Hull has "pleasantly surprised" the Colts with some of the things he did during training camp, specifically in how he's handled pass protection assignments.

"Typically rookie running backs sort of struggle the most in protection because in college football you just don't see a lot of that," Cooter said. "You don't see them pick up a lot of blitzes – they don't' have to. So, for him to come in and really do more or less a really nice job in protection. He's been a bright spot at this point sort of in training camp and in the preseason."

With Taylor not eligible to come off the Reserve/PUP list until Week 5, the Colts will ride with this committee approach while seeing if they can figure out who the main guy is from that group.

"I think that'll take place over the first couple of weeks, you know what I mean?" Steichen said. "See who's rolling pretty good and then you go from there."

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