Indianapolis Colts: Emmitt Smith

Richardson going back to school

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
2:40
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson will spend the offseason with the mind frame that he’s in school.

Learn, learn and learn the playbook some more. That will be his mentality as he knows the critics are still there and he knows the excuse of not knowing the Colts’ offensive system can no longer be used.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
Pat Lovell/USA TODAY SportsColts running back Trent Richardson will spend his offseason trying to regain his form from 2012.
Richardson spent too much time thinking when he took the handoff than running with the type of speed and force that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

“Learn the system, not just memorizing it,” Richardson said. “Learning the whole concept of the system. There's a difference between having it memorized and feeling comfortable with the system. I’m going talk to a lot of veteran players, talk to Adrian (Peterson), talk to (LaDainian Tomlinson) , talk to Emmitt Smith to make sure I’m the best I need to be next year.”

The Colts went from pulling off the biggest trade of last season when they acquired Richardson from the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick to currently having the move favor the Browns after Richardson only averaged 2.9 yards a carry. The thought of the dynamic duo of Richardson and quarterback Andrew Luck has yet to come together. Richardson ended up losing the starting running back position to Donald Brown on Dec. 1, 2013.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson defended the trade during his season-ending press conference last month. It is too soon to call Richardson a bust because he got acquired during the middle of the season. He needs a full offseason of OTA’s, minicamp and training camp before a better evaluation can be given on him.

“This is more a problem of not being in the system long enough for me,” ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards said as part of the top 50 offseason questions. “He's clearly got talent. But getting traded in the middle of the season is tough for any player, and his offensive line in Indianapolis wasn't very good this season. Indianapolis also needs to mix up the game plan with Richardson more when he's in the game. Too often, he would come into the game and it would be obvious the Colts were handing him the ball. He'd get hit behind the line.”

Richardson will split his offseason between Indianapolis and his hometown of Pensacola, Fla. He won’t be on the pretty beaches of Florida building sandcastles with his kids. He’ll be on the beach running sand hills and training with his old school coach.

“I’ve got a big motivation for next season,” Richardson said. “My big thing, I want to contribute to the team. As far as putting on a big show every weekend for the team, the city, the fans, I’m going to do whatever it takes. That’s a lot of motivation for me.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts put on extra layers, shook off the frigid air and spent the week practicing outside to prepare for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

There’s a chance Mother Nature won’t be too kind to either team at Paul Brown Stadium. The forecast calls for temperatures to be in the 30’s with a chance of snow on Sunday. The Colts haven’t played a game in the snow since the 2009 season.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
AP Photo/AJ MastTrent Richardson and the Colts' running backs might get a lot of work on Sunday in Cincinnati.
“You know what, the elements, it is what it is,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano. “From a ball-security standpoint, that’s what we stressed all week long. That’s why we got outside all week long. If it’s sleeting sideways and 30 degrees, 20 degrees, it really comes down to ball security, taking care of it. Makes throwing the ball a little bit difficult, too, so better pack a good run game.”

Limiting quarterback Andrew Luck's throwing ability and relying on the run game could cause some uneasiness since Luck is the Colts’ best offensive weapon, and the running game has been inconsistent this season.

But that’s what it might take for the Colts to have a chance to beat the Bengals, who are 5-0 at home, and get a game lead on them for the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff standings.

“I probably haven’t played in snow since I was throwing a football around as a kid, so very excited about it,” Luck said. “I love playing outside. I think there’s something about it that’s fun, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Colts rushed for 104 yards -- only the second time in the past five games that they rushed for at least 100 yards -- against the Tennessee Titans last weekend.

“I can play in snow, as a kid,” running back Trent Richardson said laughing. “But it’s just something, you just got to go out there and fight it. You got to man up. This is what the big playmakers have done their whole life. You look at the Jim Browns, the Emmitt Smiths, the Fred Taylors, the Ricky Williams' and the Edgerrin James'. Look at those type of guys. Those guys fought through it, and they stuck it through the whole time in the snow. It didn’t matter to them.”

Indianapolis has to hope it can get something out of its running game, and with some Luck-being-Luck sprinkled in there, too, because the Bengals have the offensive weapons to put points on the board.

Cincinnati averages more than 363 yards a game and has won six of its past eight. Bengals receiver A.J. Green has 72 catches for 1,103 yards, which is only 71 yards less than what T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, LaVon Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers gave combined for this season.

Indianapolis' defense forced four turnovers against Tennessee last weekend, and the unit might get cornerback Greg Toler (groin) back in the lineup for the first time in five games.

“It’s a talented team,” Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. “They got good receivers, a good quarterback ... they got some players in the backfield with (Benjarvus Green-Ellis) and (Giovani Bernard). Talented guys that can see the hole and break long runs. We got to make sure we bottle them up as best we can.”

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