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Indianapolis Colts Training Camp

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INDIANAPOLISShane Steichen has been a man of his word through the first 5 practices of training camp.

The Colts have really flip-flopped Gardner Minshew and Anthony Richardson throughout those 5 sessions, despite the rookie missing Monday’s practice while recovering from a nasal procedure.

Now, into Week Two though is where things could change as that preseason opener is a week from Saturday. Steichen said on Tuesday afternoon the staff is still working through the plan for QB reps moving forward.

Let’s take a deeper dive into how each QB has looked, and the overall picture.

-Gardner Minshew (40-of-50, 80%, through 5 practices): So far in camp it’s been a steady, consistent operation from Minshew. There’s minimal volatility when he’s under center. It’s very reminiscent to the NFL career he’s earned as a high-end backup/spot starter in just 4 NFL seasons. It’s mostly been quick rhythm, and on-target accuracy from him, without a whole lot down the field. Also, Minshew isn’t a statue back there compared to what the Colts had last year. Chris Ballard was a fan of Minshew back during the 2019 draft process and obviously Shane Steichen is a fan of his given the two going from Philly to Indy. So, this is not some quarterback who just happens to be on the roster based off a previous regime. If the Colts are opting for the safest choice, or wanting the ‘best’ chance to win in September, this is probably the pick.

-Anthony Richardson (19-of-35, 54%, through 5 practices): Outside of the timing of the two QBs (Minshew is definitely more decisive in getting the ball out), the biggest difference in the two comes from Richardson’s ability with his legs, and create something down the field. Even with a red jersey on, you see glimpses of what Richardson can do in keeping a play alive or creating something when things break down. and the big arm of Richardson allows for more big play potential. The leg element to Richardson’s game will obviously only grow in a real, live, game setting. With Richardson, you don’t get the singles and doubles like you do with Minshew, but you also see more home run ability in No. 5. When Richardson does miss, a sailing fastball is frequently the miss. Knowing when to use a specific speed with his passes needs fine-tuning. So far, the Richardson we’ve seen in camp fits the script of him entering the NFL—big plays are there, but consistency is a major question.

-Analysis: Before we get anywhere, the question has to be asked: Will this decision be viewed as who gives the Colts the best chance to win in Week 1 or through a big picture lens with Anthony Richardson? So far, Minshew has 42 starting reps, compared to 39 for Richardson. Given there’s just 3 practices until we hit the first preseason game week of August, monitoring reps moving forward will tell even more of the story on where the Colts are leaning. I hate to overreact over one missed practice, but it’s hard for me to act like that won’t have a negative impact on Richardson winning this job. Reps are so, so precious for Richardson in his development + trying to win a starting job. Granted, Steichen followed up that missed day for Richardson by giving him all 18 starting reps on Tuesday. The fact that the Colts have committed to splitting reps pretty much evenly through 5 practices, along with Richardson missing one of those days, has to be viewed as a good sign in the desire to try and get the rookie on the field early. But the reliability of Minshew might be too much to pass up, especially if this Jonathan Taylor saga spills into the regular season.

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