INDIANAPOLIS – Anthony Richardson’s spring/summer of learning and development is unfolding as expected.
One rep at a time.
The face and future of the Indianapolis Colts is sharing repetitions with veteran quarterback Gardner Minshew II during organized team activities (OTAs) that began this week.
During one 11-on-11 session Thursday afternoon, Minshew ran the No. 1 offense and completed an occasion deep pass to a streaking wide receiver.
During another, it was Richardson. The No. 4 overall pick in the April draft stepped in, commanded the huddle and went about his business. Maybe it was hitting tight end Kylen Granson in stride for a nice catch-and-run completion. Maybe it was Richardson tucking the football, hitting the edge and picking up a sizeable gain with his legs.
“We’ve been splitting them up,’’ Shane Steichen said. “Anthony is getting some reps with the ones, Gardner is getting reps with the ones and that’s how we’re rolling right now.’’
That might be how they roll for the rest of the offseason work, which concludes with the June 13-15 mandatory minicamp.
At some point, Steichen and his staff might determine it’s more beneficial to the growth of the offense and development of their rookie quarterback to tip the rep count in Richardson’s direction.
If Richardson is to be far enough along to consider starting the Sept. 10 opener against Jacksonville, he’ll need as many intense reps against a defense as time allows.
“We’ll see how it plays out during the spring and then we’ll go from there,’’ Steichen said.
The game plan always has been for Richardson and Minshew to divvy up first-team snaps. Richardson got on the practice field for the first time in the May 5-7 rookie camp, but OTAs are a different level.
“You’ve got a guy who’s really talented and comes in and, shoot, you want to see where he’s at,’’ Steichen said. “So, let’s get him going early in the process and see where he’s at.
“So far, it’s been a good process and we’re going to continue to do that.’’
Even though offseason drills are somewhat controlled – no live contact, including jostling the quarterback and his receivers – Steichen has been impressed with how Richardson has carried himself.
“You know what? He’s done a really nice job,’’ he said. “I’ve been really pleased with where he’s at mentally. He made some big plays today on the football field. He made some great throws, great decisions, some really next-level stuff that I’ve seen over the last couple days.’’
Mo Alie-Cox has been witness to the Colts’ dizzying quarterback carousel since being signed as an undrafted rookie in 2017. He’s seen the good, the bad and everything in between.
Thus far, the veteran tight end likes what he’s seen in Richardson.
“He’s definitely very mature,’’ Alie-Cox said. “Excited to watch him work. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like he’s throwing a ball. He’s just flicking it and it gets there.
“You can just tell all the tools are there. You can see his confidence is growing every day the more and more reps he gets. Now, they’re starting to work him in with the ones and stuff like that. From Monday to today, you can see the improvements.
“The sky is the limit for him.’’
There’s no question there’s room for growth. Richardson turned 21 Monday.
Alie-Cox, 29, smiled broadly.
“Yeah, man, it’s crazy,’’ he said. “I didn’t even know until the other day when they posted it was his birthday. I was like, ‘Dang, you came into the league at 20 years old. Twenty years old, I was still in college. I had three more years of college left.
“He’s here with grown men. Definitely, you can tell he gets it. He comes in every day ready to work. It’s just exciting watching him out there working, and then you see when he takes off and runs, you can see that juice there.
“It’s an element we haven’t had.’’
Pittman: excused absence
Michael Pittman Jr. didn’t participate in Thursday’s practice and could have provided a doctor’s slip as an excuse.
His wife, Kianna, was delivering the couple’s second child.
“Yeah, a great excuse,’’ Steichen said. “Fired up for him and his wife. All the best to them.’’
Watching, not practicing
The list of players not participating Thursday was long, and not totally unexpected. If a player is rehabbing from an injury or surgery, or dealing with anything minor, the team takes a cautious approach.
Linebacker Shaquille Leonard (back), punter Rigoberto Sanchez (Achilles), running back Jonathan Taylor (ankle), tight end Drew Ogletree (knee) and rookie cornerback JuJu Brents (wrist) were among players looking on from the sideline.
Steichen said Leonard and Sanchez were progressing, but didn’t offer a timetable for when either might be cleared to practice.
Rookie wideout Josh Downs was out with a minor knee issue and tight end Jelani Woods has “got a little hamstring deal,’’ according to Steichen. Starting right tackle Braden Smith is rehabbing a leg injury.
Listen to the Colts Blue Zone Podcast for coverage and analysis of the Indianapolis Colts.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.