INDIANAPOLIS – The rookie season of Anthony Richardson has officially been dealt a major, major blow.
On Wednesday morning, the Colts placed Richardson (right shoulder) on injured reserve.
A move to injured reserve means Richardson will miss at least the next four games: at Jaguars, Browns, Saints, at Panthers. After that the Colts have a trip to Germany to take on the Patriots and then their bye week.
So if the Colts want to, they could hold Richardson out through the bye (an absence of 5 games/6 weeks) and have him return on November 26th against the Bucs. That leaves 7 games left the rest of the season.
This means that through the first 9 games of Richardson’s rookie season he will have finished just one.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Richardson’s absence could last anywhere from 4-to-8 weeks depending on if surgery is needed for the rookie QB.
If the absence is for 8 weeks, that would leave only 5 games left in the Colts season for Richardson to play.
Shane Steichen said on Wednesday that Richardson will miss a “minimum” of 4 games. The team has not ruled out the possibility Richardson might miss the rest of season, or if he will need surgery.
“We’ll see,” Steichen said on Wednesday about AR returning this season. “We are still evaluating with the doctors and stuff. We will look at everything (when asked about surgery). We’ll see what happens with what the doctors say, with the final deal.”
Given the mandated 4-game absence of IR, this news means Richardson will have missed 25 of the 36 quarters he’s been eligible to play, and 15 of the 27 eligible practices in his rookie campaign.
Under a best case scenario, a sidelined Richardson limits his rookie season to just over half of the team’s games played, and that’s assuming the rookie were to stay healthy the rest of the year (7 games remain after the team’s bye week).
It is the last part of that statement which is the biggest issue at play here.
Questions about Richardson staying healthy can’t be ignored.
Sunday’s AC joint shoulder injury marks the 4th different body part Richardson has hurt in his 4 NFL games played.
All of these hits have occurred on running plays (3 of the 4 on designed runs), outside of the pocket, with injuries to his knee, ankle, a concussion and now a throwing shoulder injury.
And the hits themselves have not come in the malicious nature, something Steichen acknowledged on Monday, too. And 3 of the 4 hits came from defenders weighing 40 pounds or less than Richardson.
For those curious about a potential change in play-calling approach with Richardson’s playing style upon the rookie QB returning to action, Steichen said that is a bridge the Colts will cross once No. 5 is ready to return to action.
It is fair to worry about how long of a window Richardson can offer the Colts.
While that might seem like too much of a big picture thought just a month into his NFL career, it would be naïve to not at least acknowledge the thought.
In the short term, it’s such a disappointment to have Richardson sidelined again.
Missing more than a month would put Richardson at playing in just 20 percent of the possible action when the Colts return from their bye week in late November.
Given the fact that Richardson entered the NFL with just 13 games of college experience, it was difficult to gauge how his body would hold up at this level, especially when factoring in his dual-threat playing style.
Steichen said that part of the Richardson draft evaluation was not something the Colts discussed during the draft process.
“We just saw what (Richardson) was able to do,” Steichen said. “His talent and his body size and what he could do. We loved everything about him, so we were taking him.”
Gardner Minshew will be starting on Sunday, in a big-time divisional matchup in Jacksonville, and the man under center as the Colts enter a critical stretch of their season.
Here are some other news items from the Colts returning to practice on Wednesday:
- A sign that Anthony Richardson is/was going to miss time came on Wednesday with the Colts officially announcing Kellen Mond joining the practice squad. Mond, a former third-round pick of the Vikings, has thrown 3 passes in his NFL career and was most recently with the Browns. Mond was a decorated collegian at Texas A&M, offering dual-threat production, but questions about accuracy and processing have been seen in the NFL, too. With this signing, the Colts maintain having 3 healthy quarterbacks in the building: Gardner Minshew, Sam Ehlinger, Kellen Mond.
- The Colts are planning to increase the workload for Jonathan Taylor this weekend. Taylor played 10 snaps and had 7 touches (6 carries and 1 catch) against the Titans. Zack Moss played 53 snaps against the Titans, carrying the ball 23 times and adding 2 catches. It’ll be interesting to watch how the Colts balance this out.
- Steichen said LT-Bernhard Raimann (concussion) is expecting to practice on Wednesday. Raimann has missed the last two weeks with rookie Blake Freeland filling in. Along Raimann practicing on Wednesday, Kwity Paye (concussion) and Shaquille Leonard (groin) were also working. Mo Alie-Cox (concussion) and Braden Smith (undisclosed) were watching though.
- What an incredible start to the season for LB-Zaire Franklin. The NFL sent out this eye-popping stat earlier in the week: Franklin has at least 12 tackles in each of the first 5 games of the season. Franklin and Zach Thomas (2005) are the only 2 players to achieve that since 2000. The Franklin story is incredible. And he’s playing like one of the best LBs in the league.
- Despite the need to interchange quarterbacks through the first 5 weeks of the season, the Colts have still found some consistent scoring. Indianapolis is 1 of just 5 teams to have scored in all 5 games this season (Colts, Lions, Dolphins. Eagles, 49ers). Shane Steichen, hat tip.
- So much has changed since these teams met just a month ago. The Colts will start a different quarterback (Gardner Minshew in for Anthony Richardson). The Colts have upgraded at running back (Zack Moss and Jonathan Taylor instead of Deon Jackson and Evan Hull). The Colts have traded youth for youth at cornerback (JuJu Brents and Jaylon Jones in for Dallis Flowers and Darrell Baker Jr.). And the Jaguars have an upgrade at left tackle with Cam Robinson back in the lineup. It’s important to keep this in mind when thinking back on a very entertaining season opener.
- When you consider the combination of quarterback plus skill players, the Jaguars probably offer the toughest challenge for the Colts all season. That’s why it is so vital for the Colts defensive line to control the line of scrimmage and try to disrupt things on that end.
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