INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was making his way through the dark hallway that leads to the practice field Thursday afternoon. There was something different about him on this day. He went from normally not offering much of an expression to having, well, a little extra pep (excuse the pun) in his step.
“I’m not saying anything,” Hamilton said with a smile on his face.
Hamilton didn't have to say anything. His facial expression said it all about how he felt about the Colts trading for running back Trent Richardson. But he wasn’t talking about it until Friday, when he addressed the media on his assigned day.
Not much had changed about Hamilton almost 24 hours later. He was still just as excited about having Richardson in his offense.
“It was shocking that we would have a chance to acquire such a commodity,” Hamilton said. “I think when we prepared for the Cleveland game in the preseason, Coach (Chuck) Pagano presented some of the Cleveland’s game records to our team and Trent was at the top of that list. I think it’s just awesome. It’s an awesome deal for the Colts and the Colts fans to have an opportunity to have such a special young player on the roster now.”
It's up to Hamilton, who is in his first year as the Colts’ offensive coordinator, to make sure their “power running” game successful. Through Week 2, the Colts were fifth in the league in rushing, so they can’t be knocked in that area. But there would have a reason for concern if they'd had to go the rest of the reason with the backfield tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown.
Now, there’s no excuse not to continue to run the ball well, with Richardson and Bradshaw in the backfield.
And running the ball is an even greater necessity given the injury troubles that have struck Indianapolis' defense. Safety LaRon Landry (ankle) is already out for Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers. Linebacker Pat Angerer (knee) is doubtful and safety Antoine Bethea (toe) and defensive lineman Cory Redding (back) are questionable.
It’s uncertain how quickly Richardson will pick up the offense. He’s only had two practices, but he'll still be the lineup against the 49ers because the Colts don't plan on using him as a water boy Sunday, according to Pagano. The Colts hope he’s a quick learner, because they need to establish a running game to keep San Francisco’s offense off the field, and that should eventually allow quarterback Andrew Luck to pass the ball when the 49ers load the box.
The Colts run some of the same schemes the Browns and the University of Alabama run, so that should help ease Richardson's learning curve.
“I don’t think he’s far off,” Hamilton said. “I think considering that we want to hand the ball off to the back quite a bit, he can do the things that we can’t coach right now. It’s just a matter of telling him ‘Hey, this is a run to the right or this is a run to the left.’ You can never really predetermine how the defensive front or the coverage is going to unfold. I think it’s just a matter of Trent learning our terminology.”
There was talk of Bradshaw and Vick Ballard splitting carries 50-50, but that will likely change with Richardson and Bradshaw. Richardson will eventually be the primary back, with Bradshaw still getting his fair share. Brown's playing time on offense is expected to be limited.
“We expect that they’ll all get an opportunity to play and to carry the football,” Hamilton said.