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Colts Training Camp: Separate Ways (Fields Apart)

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star
Indianapolis Colts QB Anthony Richardson throws on the run at Colts Training Camp on Sunday at Grand Park.
Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

WESTFIELD – Gardner Minshew and Anthony Richardson had their backs against the wall on separate fields during Tuesday’s first “call-it” practice session at Grand Park.

Indianapolis’ fifth-year veteran led the first-team offense starting at its 1-yard line on the southernmost practice field. After hitting tight end Kylen Granson on a curl route to create 2nd-&-short, Minshew motioned receiver Michael Pittman Jr. to overload the right side and connected on a slant to move the sticks. Minshew threw two perfect deep balls on consecutive plays during 1-on-1s, hitting receivers Breshad Perriman (left) and Amari Rodgers (right) 40-yards downfield near the pylons on opposite corner routes.

Minshew continued to distribute the leather in the next team drill, moving the sticks on out routes to Granson and rookie receiver Josh Downs. In the 7-on-7 drill coming out from the 1-yard line, Minshew completed all five passes, including a pair of first down completions to receiver Alec Pierce. Minshew ran a polished four-minute offense and finished Tuesday’s team sessions passing 9-for-12 through the air.

Richardson started inside his own end zone against the second-team defense on the northernmost practice field. The Colts rookie QB hit tight end Nick Eubanks on a slant to gain breathing room, but took a safety two plays later. To conclude the first practice session, Richardson executed the run-pass option, rolled left and slung a first down to receiver Malik Turner near the sideline.

The 21-year old had a rough practice, throwing four straight incompletions during the 7-on-7 drill. Richardson later underthrew a fade, which was picked off near the sideline by cornerback Kevin Tolliver II and lost a fumble on his final play of practice.

Colts head coach Shane Steichen spoke on his quarterback philosophy after Tuesday’s practice, mentioning he takes a daily process to evaluate mistakes. His objective for Richardson is to grow by gaining more knowledge of what it takes to play quarterback in the NFL.

“They got so much and it’s the hardest position in sports to play,” Steichen said. “It’s a day-by-day process. Those guys are going to make mistakes just like everyone else is, but I think the growth from understanding the game and what we are trying to get done – coach them in the right way, talk to them in the right way. All guys, you can’t coach every guy the same. That’s a big process of it, and we work through that every day on the practice field, in the meeting rooms, going through cut-ups and different looks to get him in the right direction.”

Before landing the Colts head coaching job, Steichen choreographed the NFL’s most prolific rushing attack for the last two seasons, reaching Super Bowl LVII in 2022. Steichen aims to open up the offense by exploiting defensive schemes and forcing edge rushers to choose between attacking Richardson or the Colts backfield enigma at running back. The quarterback reads the RPO with similar effect to a boxer’s counterpunch, reacting to the linebacker’s decision to either fill the gaps at the line of scrimmage or drop back in coverage.

Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts ran the RPO on 148 plays in 2022, which led the NFL despite missing two games. During Steichen’s two seasons in Philadelphia, which were Jalen Hurts’ developmental years, the offense led the NFL with 153.6 rushing yards per game and 57 rushing touchdowns.

The Colts signed veteran running back Kenyan Drake (29) to a one-year deal on Aug. 4 to bolster the depleted running back room. Free-agent running back Kareem Hunt (28) is expected to fly out to Indianapolis on Wednesday to meet with the Colts, per source. Steichen plans to speak with the offensive and defensive coordinators on Wednesday to discuss which starters will play before the Colts travel for the preseason opener in Buffalo. With three days and one practice left to prepare for the Bills, ball security and playing fundamental football are primary goals for the coaching staff.

“We might right run the same concept, but we get a different look from the defense,” Steichen said. “Well, now our eyes got to become quicker to the next read. So, it’s been good for him to get all these reps. Obviously, in the preseason he is going to see a different scheme, and next weekend, Chicago, we will see a little different thing. It will be good for him to see all the different looks and just keeping growing, staying consistent, staying within the system, and playing good ball.”