If you’re a fan of running the football, this week’s Thursday Night Football contest isn’t for you.

Three days ago, the Denver Broncos lost their best running back in Javonte Williams to an ACL, LCL and PLC injury in his right knee. Williams is a beastly back who punishes defenders as they try to tackle him. Unfortunately, he’s now done for the season, prompting the Broncos to elevate Melvin Gordon to the starting role and sign Latavius Murray. 

On the other side of the ball, the Indianapolis Colts are hurting badly as well, losing Jonathan Taylor on a short-term basis. Taylor injured his ankle and was officially ruled out on Wednesday, one day before the game.

As explained by Ian Rapoport here, Taylor couldn’t do enough on his ankle to warrant playing:

Taylor was undoubtedly the best back in the NFL in 2021, leading the league in yards (1,811), touchdowns (18), with the longest running play from scrimmage (83 yards) too.

He’s an electric back who also catches passes from the backfield, to the tune of 40 receptions for 360 yards and 2 TDs last year.

This year, Taylor’s been less effective in all areas. Through four games, he’s rushed for 328 yards and 1 TD, and his yards per carry average are down to 4.0 from 5.5 YPC last year. Similarly, he only has 44 yards through the air to this point in the season.

The superstar back rolled his ankle in the loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sunday but hoped to play this Thursday night.

Instead, Nyheim Hines will get the start. It also means Phillip Lindsay — Denver born and bred whom many Broncos fans wanted the team to re-sign when Williams was injured — will likely be elevated to the game day roster from the practice squad.

Hines has a history of making plays in a backup role, and scored 7 touchdowns in 2020; three on the ground and four through the air. But he was used more sparingly in 2021. And Broncos fans know Lindsay well, who spent his first three years in the Mile High City, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in his first two seasons.

Both the Broncos and Colts are banged up only four weeks into the season. Denver will again be without Justin Simmons, who was injured in Week 1, and Randy Gregory just went on the four-game Injured Reseve himself. Williams’ injury was crucial because Gordon fumbled in the loss to the Raiders, a ball which was returned for a touchdown. Now Gordon will be counted on to carry the load, at least for this week, with Mike Boone behind him.

For Indianapolis, Taylor’s injury joins Shaquille Leonard and Tyquan Lewis. Leonard has been the Colts best linebacker for years, but sat the first three weeks out as he recovered from back surgery. This week he’ll be sidelined due to sustaining a concussion against the Titans.

Lewis, a defensive end, also suffered a concussion in last Sunday’s loss.

For the Broncos, seeing multiple, key starters out for the Colts this week makes this an even more important game to capitalize on and win.

Denver (2-2) hosts Indianapolis (1-2-1) this Thursday night with kickoff scheduled for 6:15 p.m. MT. The game will be televised on Amazon Prime TV.