Trent Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft and the running back for whom the Colts traded a first round pick a year ago, has seen his role as a running back significantly decrease in recent weeks, to the point where he saw just one snap at running back in last Sunday's playoff win. On Thursday in practice, Richardson was seen working with the special teams units.
"I'm here to do whatever I can to help the team," Richardson told ESPN's Mike Wells in the locker room today after practice.
It's a scenario that reminds of the Darrius Heyward-Bey situation last season. He was signed as a free agent wide receiver in the offseason, but he saw his role significantly decrease as the season went on, to the point where he was basically only a special teams player. DHB handled the "demotion" with incredible class, always saying that he would do whatever he could to help the team in whatever role they asked of him. It sounds similar to what Richardson is saying now. And it's pretty clear that he's been demoted as well - but that was clear before he started playing on special teams. Another free agent signed by the Colts, LaRon Landry, also lost his starting spot and played special teams, but he has worked his way back into the starting lineup. Can Richardson do the same? Perhaps the more important question to ask is this: will he even get the chance?
"All of our guys are practicing and ultimately Coach Pagano, he'll decide on who's going to get the opportunities to carry the ball," offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said today. That statement in itself is pretty startling and brings with it a lot of questions, but for our purposes let's then look at what Chuck Pagano had to say about Richardson's role this Sunday.
"We're going to evaluate the situation as we go through the week and we'll know more as we go through the week," Pagano said when speaking with the media on Wednesday. Or, in other words, he wouldn't say. But it does seem like Richardson won't be moving up that much in the running back order, which on Sunday saw him number three behind Boom Herron and Zurlon Tipton. And really, there's not much that Richardson has shown as to why he should be ahead of those two. In 29 regular season games with the Colts, he's rushed for just 977 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 3.1 yards per carry. In three career postseason games with Indy, he's rushed for just one yard on four carries combined, plus lost a fumble. Last week, he didn't see a single carry. And it's looking like he won't have a big role in the offense this week, either, as he's working some with the special teams units now.