Colts Football

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson throws during practice Thursday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

INDIANAPOLIS – It was perhaps the play of the day.

Late in Thursday’s OTA practice – the first of the spring open to media – rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson fired a line drive over the middle of the field that hit tight end Kylen Granson in stride.

The ball traveled about 15 yards in the air and was perfectly placed so Granson could make the catch about a step ahead of linebacker JoJo Domann. From there it was a footrace, and the third-year tight end quickly flashed to the sideline and outran the defense for what would have been a 60-plus yard touchdown.

It was a 7-on-7 drill, so there was no pass rush, and May practices are a far cry from September games.

But this is the kind of highlight that keeps everyone inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center buzzing about Richardson, who celebrated his 21st birthday Monday.

“I’ve been really pleased with where he’s at mentally,” Colts head coach Shane Steichen said. “He made some big plays today on the football field. He made some great throws, great decisions – some really next-level stuff that I’ve seen over the last couple days. I’m really pleased with where he’s at.”

Still, the rookie isn’t being handed anything.

Veteran Gardner Minshew got the first reps with the starters Thursday as the two quarterbacks split time with the first team.

Minshew’s presence has been a positive for the offense as a whole. He spent the last two seasons playing in Steichen’s scheme with the Philadelphia Eagles, and that knowledge has been immediately evident to his teammates.

“With Gardner, I think he’s a well-knowledged veteran,” wide receiver Ashton Dulin said. “He’s smart, low-down cool dude. But at the same time, when gets on the field, it’s time to work. That’s what I love about him. He’s a real competitor, and he brings that out of everybody.”

Teammates have been equally impressed with Richardson, who is working on the field with the veterans in full team drills for the first time.

There were some rough patches Thursday, including back-to-back throws that were batted down in 7-on-7 drills. But there were more signs of the quarterback’s vast potential.

His biggest throw of the day went more than 50 yards through the air to former Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Malik Turner.

Richardson also displayed his running ability with a pair of scrambles and completed one pass of 20-plus yards after avoiding a rush from defensive tackle DeForest Buckner in the pocket and keeping the play alive for several seconds while he found space to throw.

So, though the competition for the starting job with Minshew will continue throughout the summer, the rookie already is turning plenty of heads.

“He’s definitely very mature,” tight end Mo Alie-Cox said. “Excited to watch him work. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like he’s throwing a ball. He’s just flicking it, and it gets there. You can just tell all the tools are there. You can see his confidence is growing every day, the more and more reps he gets.

“Now they’re starting to work him in with the ones and stuff like that. From Monday to today, you can see the improvements. They sky is the limit for him.”


Count Dulin, who first made a name for himself in the NFL as a contributor on kickoff coverage, among those skeptical of the newly passed rule allowing teams to fair catch a kickoff inside the 25-yard line and start the drive at the 25.

It’s designed to combat what the league says is a rising number of concussions during the game’s most dangerous play.

But it also could deprive some young players of an avenue to make the 53-man roster.

“Personally, I don’t like it,” Dulin said. “I like to make tackles being on kickoff, but I think it’ll probably add aspects to the game as far as now you’ve got to strategically be able to change up our schemes as far as where we put the ball at. Not as far as trying to force turnovers on kickoffs but moreso trying different things out, whether it’s squibbing the ball or hitting the ball on the ground so it’s not as easy to call for a fair catch. But I think that’s something we’re going to adjust to and build into as we go on.”


Several well-known players were among those sitting out Thursday’s practice.

Steichen said linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back) and punter Rigoberto Sanchez (Achilles) are progressing well, but there is no timetable for either player’s return.

Rookie wide receiver Josh Downs (knee), second-year tight end Jelani Woods (hamstring) and right tackle Braden Smith (leg) also missed practice. Steichen said none of those injuries are considered major at this time.

Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. also was absent Thursday. He was attending the birth of his second child.

“Fired up for him and his wife,” Steichen said. “All the best to them.”

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