Colts’ Anthony Richardson taking first-team QB reps: Here’s what it means for team’s Week 1 plans

Anthony Richardson may be widely considered the most unpolished of this year’s rookie quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean the Colts‘ first-round pick isn’t making an instant impact in Indianapolis. Coach Shane Steichen told reporters Thursday that Richardson has already begun splitting first-team reps with veteran Gardner Minshew at organized team activities (OTAs).

Richardson made just 13 starts at Florida, where he completed fewer than 55 percent of his passes. Colts general manager Chris Ballard alluded to the QB’s need for development after drafting him No. 4 overall in April, suggesting Richardson can’t be “Superman from Day 1” and might require multiple seasons to become a good NFL player.

Then why is Richardson suddenly taking starting reps in the spring?

“Everything is an evaluation,” Steichen said Thursday, per ESPN.

And part of the team’s evaluation of Richardson’s readiness, Steichen indicated, is seeing him work with the first-team offense.

What does it all mean for the future? And, specifically, for the Colts’ Week 1 plans?

It’s still too early to lock Richardson into the opening day lineup. Minshew, remember, may be a mere placeholder atop the QB depth chart, but he’s got two years of experience working under Steichen going back to their shared time with the Eagles.

But the fact the Colts are dedicating half their first-team reps to the rookie — at the very start of the offseason program, no less — is a clear sign that Richardson is in the mix for starting duties out of the gate.

Consider that in Houston, fellow rookie QB C.J. Stroud, who went No. 2 overall, has yet to take first-team snaps behind Davis Mills. That’s not to say Stroud won’t eventually overtake Mills as the Texans‘ projected Week 1 starter. But it’s unlikely Steichen, who admitted to witnessing “some next-level stuff” from Richardson at practice this week, would bother testing his own young QB in the lineup if he didn’t intend on working Richardson into his 2023 plans.

Couple all that with the fact team owner Jim Irsay has already gone on record predicting Richardson will start at some point this year, and it’s a safe bet that No. 5 will be under center sooner rather than later.

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