INDIANAPOLIS – The Anthony Richardson developmental project is back on display.
With full clearance from the concussion protocol, which Shane Steichen announced on Friday, Richardson is back under center for the Colts this Sunday against the Rams.
That means the Richardson absence lasted for one game, and those 3 practices last week.
Richardson’s return re-starts all the attention on his precious development, one that had some strong early signs.
But the reality is Richardson has missed more playing time this year (7 quarters of action) compared to what he’s played (5 quarters of action).
And some curious questions are there in how Richardson is going to look on Sunday, and moving forward.
-Do we see alterations at all in his playing style after missing time due to injuries?
-Is the efficient passer Richardson unexpectedly showed in his early action real, or do we see more inconsistencies, with some deep attempts sprinkled in?
-What does the Colts rushing offense look like with Richardson and Zack Moss together (they only played 1 quarter together in Houston)?
With Richardson back to playing, is there any changing to his playing style needed?
“We’ve had those conversations,” Shane Steichen said on Friday. Just being smart when you need to be smart. Obviously if it’s a got to have it situation, we got to have it, But being smart, knowing when to get down and get out of bounds.”
The big surprises on Friday though came along the offensive line.
Both LT-Bernhard Raimann and C-Ryan Kelly did not practice due to having concussion symptoms. Kelly’s came after the center was a full practice participant on both Wednesday and Thursday.
Remember, Kelly missed over a month back in 2017 in trying to return from a concussion. Kelly was at practice on Friday, but not participating.
Raimann’s symptoms arose after practice on Thursday. He did not practice on Friday.
Both Kelly and Raimann will miss Sunday’s contest with the Rams.
And then RT-Braden Smith (right wrist) was another new addition to the injury report, missing Friday’s final practice of the week. Smith will play on Sunday, but he did have a small wrap on his right wrist while watching Friday’s practice
So the Colts will be looking at Arlington Hambright or Blake Freeland at left tackle this week. It would be Freeland’s NFL debut on offense. Hambright has never started an NFL game at left tackle.
These late week surprises on the offensive line could test one of the biggest off-season questions for the Colts and that’s their offensive line depth.
Will Fries at right guard is the only starting offensive lineman who practiced every day this week. Quenton Nelson (toe) had his usual two days off for rest and then did participate on Friday. He’s expected to go.
Look for C-Wesley French to make his second straight start, with Kelly having the late-week setback in not clearing concussion protocol.
Also, DT-DeForest Buckner (groin, back) missed every single practice this week. His status for Sunday is officially questionable.
Could Buckner play in a sub role, if he’s able to give it a go at all?
The loss of Buckner on Sunday would be a big one given how dominant the Indy defensive line has been this season, plus the need to disrupt the timing of Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford.
For the first time this season, the Colts have some late-week adjustments to make as they welcome the Rams on Sunday afternoon.
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