INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts running back Jonathan Taylor says he will test his surgically repaired right thumb in practice this week with the goal of returning for Sunday's game in Atlanta.

But Taylor stopped short of making a prediction about his availability against the Falcons, saying his ability to protect the ball in traffic will be a key determinant.

With the Colts (8-6) in the midst of a playoff push, Taylor's status is being closely monitored by the team. He's missed the past three games, with the Colts going 2-1.

"First day, full speed," Taylor said Thursday morning before taking the field for his first practice since the Nov. 29 surgery. He was later listed as a full participant.

"Of course, everything we've been doing has been [in the] training room and controlled. But [practice is] full speed. You've got full velocity on the ball, you've got guys coming after the ball. It's going to be a big day."

Asked whether he expected to play Sunday, Taylor hedged.

"You've definitely got to see it at full speed at practice, for sure," he said.

The 2021 NFL rushing leader confirmed he sustained a torn ligament in his right thumb in a Nov. 26 win over the Buccaneers. Taylor said team trainers did "a heavy tape job" which allowed him to finish the game. He rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

"We thought it was a jam," Taylor said. But further examination after the game revealed the extent of the injury, making surgery nonnegotiable.

After missing the first four games of the season while on the physically unable to perform list after offseason ankle surgery, Taylor said the current injury is a big blow.

"I was just sick," he said. "I'm like, 'Man, another one?'"

With backup running back Zack Moss already dealing with an injury that has left his status in question, Taylor's return could be a big boost for Indianapolis. The Colts are currently in the seventh and final seed in the AFC and need to finish strong.

Taylor, who has rushed for a career-low 4.1 yards per carry this season, believes he can give the Colts some key contributions down the stretch.

"It's not how you start," he said. "It's how you finish."