Time to step up: Trent Richardson

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
1:00
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- It's no secret the pressure players such as quarterback Andrew Luck and linebacker Robert Mathis are under to be at their best every week for the Indianapolis Colts. But you don't have to wonder if those players will show up to play on a week-to-week basis.

The same can't be said about some other players on the roster.

With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, we're going to take a look at a number of players who are under pressure to step up this season.

Richardson
Time to step up: Running back Trent Richardson

Why he needs to step up: The Colts didn't fork over a first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Richardson to struggle and eventually lose his starting position to Donald Brown. Richardson obviously was behind the rest of his teammates after being acquired just days before the Colts' Week 3 game against San Francisco, but he didn't show much progress as the season went on. He actually regressed as the season went on. Richardson has to step up to not only avoid being labeled a bust after being taken with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft, but also to help the Colts from looking like they got played by the Browns in the trade. Averaging 2.9 yards a carry again won't get the job done for Richardson.

What he has to do: Richardson -- for his and the Colts' sake -- spent the offseason studying the playbook so that he's able to run with his natural instincts instead of overthinking, which he did too often last season. Richardson also has to do a better job of picking the correct holes to run through. It wasn't entirely Richardson's fault last season. The offensive line has to do a better job of blocking. There were way too many occasions where Richardson would get hit two or three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Richardson also has to beat out Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard for the starting running back position.

Outlook: Richardson wore a red non-contact jersey during part of the offseason workouts because he had surgery on his shoulder shortly after the season ended. He'll likely get the first shot at starting over Bradshaw and Ballard because the latter two are coming off injuries that cost them almost all of the 2013 season. But Richardson will have to produce right away because it's unlikely the Colts will wait for him to get going if Bradshaw and Ballard are producing when given the opportunity.

Quotable: "(Richardson's) one of those guys that has benefitted tremendously from the extra classroom time. It was ambitious to think that he could come in, what was it, Week 3 or 4 last year, and pick it up to hit the ground running. It was one of those situations where the defense knew when we put him in the game that more than likely we were running the football and they were packing the box. He was faced with some tremendously tough looks but he'll be better in 2014." -- Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton

Mike Wells

ESPN Indianapolis Colts reporter

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