- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANDERSON, Ind. -- There was one substantial trade in the NFL last season. One that was supposed to give Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck his complimentary piece in the backfield that he would team with for years to come. Too bad that hasn't happened yet.
The move to acquire running back Trent Richardson from the Cleveland Browns in September 2013 is not favoring the Colts so far. The more Richardson struggled last season, which was on a regular basis, the more he was criticized and the more Indianapolis general manger Ryan Grigson was questioned for making a trade that wasn’t panning out.
Richardson was eventually benched and ended up averaging only 2.9 yards a carry last season.
To Richardson’s defense, he was thrown on the field less than a week after being acquired, teams stacked the box at times, and he was running behind an interior offensive line that wasn’t any good.
New season, fresh start?
That’s what you would like to believe.
In Richardson and Grigson’s case that has to happen. No more excuses. Richardson has had an entire offseason to familiarize himself with the offense, get in better shape and let his shoulder heal.
Richardson revealed for the first time Thursday that he had a chipped collarbone and his AC joint had separated last season.
“Toward the end of the season I felt a lot more comfortable, but the other time I was more injured,” Richardson said.
Richardson’s offseason, according to him, was spent working with his high school coach in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida, running the beaches, working his speed and learning the playbook like he’s studying for the bar exam.
“He’s a lot more comfortable,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Basically it was survival for him at first, memorization. Now he has a better understanding scheme-wise, why we’re doing things, why we’re calling certain things, how we run plays. He has a better feel for guys he’s playing with, the line, guy in front of him, the fullback. He’s obviously in a much better place.”
Richardson is expected to get the first shot at starting because not doing so would be a sign of admission of the trade not working in the Colts’ favor. Don't expect the Colts to stick with Richardson in the starting lineup for as long as they did last season if he struggles like he did last season. He’ll be pushed by Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard for playing time.
“I think through the course of camp it’s all going to take care of itself, shake itself out,” Pagano said. “You’d like to have a bell cow. We’ll see if that happens…We’ll do a good job of getting the guys the necessary reps to make evaluations. If someone separates himself and becomes that guy then that’s your bell cow.”