INDIANAPOLIS – A vote by the players simply confirmed what everyone has witnessed over the past four months.
The growth. The maturity. The inherent leadership.
Before stepping onto the field for his first regular-season game, Anthony Richardson received a notable grade from the Indianapolis Colts.
“C”. As in one of the team’s seven captains.
“I think that’s a big honor as a rookie. To get that just kind of really speaks volumes about what the team thinks about him. He was excited. Obviously, wearing that ‘C’ on your chest is a big deal. You’ve got to earn that thing every single day,” Shane Steichen said Thursday. ” You earn the respect of your teammates wearing that thing. You’re the leader of this football team and you got a high standard every single day through the good, the bad, on and off the field.’’
Richardson understands the weight and expectations the Colts placed on his shoulders when they selected him with the No. 4 overall pick in the April draft. The “C” on his jersey is simply outward evidence.
“I kinda put my expectations a little higher than everybody else’s,’’ he said earlier this week before the team voted for its captains. “Sometimes I give myself a grade, sometimes I don’t. It’s just a matter of me wanting to be the best version of myself.’’
Richardson has made it a point to become just another player in the locker room and not someone to be held in high esteem simply because of his draft status.
“I haven’t done anything, yet,’’ he said. “I need to establish myself in this league and on this team.’’
Initially, that meant connecting with the returning veterans.
“I think it’s going great,’’ Richardson said.
His teammates clearly agreed.
Steichen determined team captains by instructing players to vote, and the top seven would earn the distinction of having a “C” added to their jersey.
Joining Richardson: center Ryan Kelly, guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebackers Shaquille Leonard and Zaire Franklin and cornerback Kenny Moore II.
Kelly has served as one of the team’s weekly captains, but never for the entire season.
“Just an honor,’’ he said. “You can put all the Pro Bowls aside, but I think (if) you ask any former player, being chosen to be a captain on the team is right up there with one of the most satisfying accomplishments you can get. It comes with a big task obviously, something I feel like I’ve always been doing. Just leading the room and leading the rest of the team.’’
Kelly and Richardson are an odd couple in terms of being captains. Kelly and longsnapper Luke Rhodes are the only 30-year Colts. Richardson, who turned 21 in May, is one of the youngest.
“Yeah, I mean, 30. Usually, you’ve got a few more (teammates) over that,’’ Kelly said. “It’s a young man’s game. I’m just kind of sticking it out year by year. Thirty comes quick.’’
That his teammates included Richardson in their captains’ room at such a young age is evidence of his early impact.
“To have the support of his teammates is huge,’’ Steichen said. “It speaks volumes to his character, the person he is and what the team thinks about him. It ain’t going to be easy. We know that, right? There’s going to be ups and downs, but we’re going to have his back through this thing thick and thin.’’
While Richardson and Kelly are first-time full-year captains, the others have multiple designations on their resumes: Leonard (five), Franklin (four), Buckner (three), Nelson (three) and Moore (two).
Leonard and fellow ‘backer E.J. Speed remain in the NFL’s concussion protocol, but each practiced Thursday without a red jersey. That’s usually a sign each is making the necessary progress through protocol.
The Colts signed defensive end Jake Martin and waived offensive lineman Arlington Hambright. They also continued to adjust the practice squad by signing wide receiver Racey McMath, cornerback Darren Hall and tight end Johnny Lumpkin, and releasing cornerback Kevin Tolliver II and linebacker Donovan Mutin.
Martin and Hall bring experience.
The 6’2″, 242-pound Martin has appeared in 74 games with 15 starts during a five-year career that’s included stints with Seattle, Houston, Denver and the New York Jets. He has 16 career sacks, 29 quarterback hits and 15 tackles for loss.
Hall was a 2021 fourth-round pick of Atlanta who started 10 of 31 games, including nine last season.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.