WESTFIELD – By 9 a.m. on Wednesday, a line of devoted fans queued 100 yards deep rushed through the gates at Grand Park amped for opening practice of the Colts training camp.
With substantial anticipation to catch the first glimpse of Indianapolis’ new franchise quarterback, rookie Anthony Richardson made his first appearance, sporting the blue horseshoe on his helmet. The Miami native mentioned focusing on his throwing mechanics and drop back footwork during OTAs.
Colts head coach Shane Steichen kept the team drills compact in the red zone to avoid long distance sprints in accordance with the ramp-up period decreed in the NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement. Steichen is meticulous when crafting several key sessions into an hour-long practice. Attention to detail is a priority for the first-year head coach as players adjust to the limited reps and sprints for the first live practice.
As the offensive starters took the field in the opening team drill with goal-to-go from the 10-yard line, newly signed veteran quarterback Gardner Minshew took command behind center. The fifth-year quarterback finished 4-for-4 passing in his first team drill and noted his objective to share his experience with Richardson.
Richardson took snaps with the second-team and showcased his electric playmaking to reach the end zone on the ground and through the air. Despite star running back Jonathan Taylor starting camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, one notable difference in the Colts new offense is Richardson demonstrates the quick instincts to pull the ball away from the running back to create a dynamic run-pass option.
“It is just a matter of trusting my training, going through my routines every day,” Richardson said. “My throwing routines throughout the day before practice and just staying in tune with my arm and my legs. Just staying on point and helping my receivers get the ball.”
Of Richardson’s nine plays during the 11-on-11 team drill, Richardson ran the RPO, kept the option, raced left and cut upfield for a walk-in touchdown. For his final play in the 7-on-7 drill, Richardson rolled right, went through his progressions and threw a crossbody touchdown to a sliding Vyncint Smith in front of the goal post for his second score.
“It feels good. It definitely feels good whenever a play works,” Richardson said. “That’s one of our key plays that we like to run. Hopefully we can make it work a lot more but it just feels good when you install something and go out there on the field and it works.”
Steichen applauded the fans, calling the grand turnout “unbelievable”. A new era of Colts football begins with Stechen, and his mercurial position of when to allow Richardson to play with the starting group during the preseason. Steichen acknowledged Minshew and Richardson will rotate with first-team reps throughout the duration of camp.
“It is always special when you get an opportunity to be a head coach in the National Football League, never take it for granted,” Steichen said. Walking out here and seeing the fans and the players and all the work that goes into it, it’s special.
After a carousel of seven quarterbacks starting over the last four seasons, the Colts took a chance on the youngest prospect with the No. 4 overall pick in April’s 2023 NFL Draft. The Colts fan base took six months off to respite from a disastrous collapse last season, losing the final seven games. Day 1 Colts training camp is complete with 12 practices to go, and a new era of Colts football has begun with all eyes in Grand Park at No. 5.