WESTFIELD, Ind. — Ninety days.
From Day 1 of the NFL Draft to Wednesday’s first training camp practice, it was 90 long days before the Colts fanbase could catch its first glimpse of prized rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson. The last time the 21-year-old publicly performed in Indiana, he was lighting up the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium with the most impressive showing of any signal caller ever.
“I want to be a legend,” Richardson said at the combine. “… I want to be one of the greats. I will be one of the greats, because I’m willing to work that hard and get to that point.”
Day 2 of #Colts camp, Day 1 of practice
A few takeaways:
— Shaq is back!
— Anthony Richardson’s debut
— injury updates
— No timeline for Jonathan Taylor regarding the PUP list (or an extension) pic.twitter.com/kHJDSdRclp
— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) July 26, 2023
Richardson has remained confident since being drafted, but he has toned it down a bit. The Colts didn’t select him No. 4 overall because he was an outstanding, ready-made player at Florida. They chose him, despite a 6-7 record as a starter and a 53.8 completion percentage in 2022, because of his extraordinary physical gifts, high upside and the dream of what he could be.
Richardson flashed his potential Wednesday, drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd each time he touched the ball. The rookie resumed a QB competition with veteran Gardner Minshew, who took all 15 of the starting reps in 11-on-11 drills, though coach Shane Steichen said the first-team reps will vary early in camp.
Steichen put a heavy emphasis on red zone work Wednesday, and Minshew finished 4-for-4 passing with a touchdown to tight end Kylen Granson. Richardson participated in nine plays during 11-on-11 and was 2-for-2 passing, highlighted by a touchdown to wide receiver Ethan Fernea.
Anthony Richardson to Ethan Fernea 🔥
— The Colts Cast (@TheColtsCast) July 26, 2023
“Definitely excited,” Richardson said of his emotions heading into his first training camp. “The coaches, they do a great job of preparing us, and we gotta do a great job of preparing ourselves. I know the QB room, they’re gonna continue to push me to be better, so I was definitely excited to just come out here and showcase what I’m able to do.”
Richardson represents the Colts’ future, and that future officially began at 10.a.m., Wednesday at Grand Park in Westfield. The Athletic tracked the rookie’s every move as he performed under the watchful eyes of hundreds of fans, several of whom were wearing his No. 5 jersey. Here’s a minute-by-minute breakdown of his day:
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9:49 a.m. — The other quarterbacks, Minshew and third-stringer Sam Ehlinger, are already on the north practice field with the offense. As more players file in, some heading to the south field with the defense, Colts fans keep squinting to see if Richardson is next. The rookie finally emerges in his red practice jersey and holds his white helmet in his right hand. He flicks his hair back as he steps on the grass and puts his helmet on. The crowd begins cheering before he even throws a pass.
“He was great,” Steichen said of how Richardson handled the spotlight. “I mean, shoot, he played in the SEC. So he’s played in big crowds before and he was awesome.”
9:53 — Richardson joins Ehlinger and Minshew and begins warming up by throwing short and intermediate passes to a Colts staffer. The first few reps are regular dropbacks and transition into bootleg tosses.
— Dominic Miranda (@DomMirandaTV) July 26, 2023
9:56 — The QBs begin throwing farther, and Richardson shows off his effortless arm strength. He rips a few balls down the sideline before the offense is eventually directed to join the defense on the south field for stretching.
9:57 — Richardson takes a knee to tie his cleats, and a few of teammates walk by and pat him on the back.
10:00 — The players begin stationary stretching on the south field before advancing to movement stretching, including high knees and slides. After one of his high-knee reps, Richardson puts his helmet on and points to the sky in prayer.
10:07 — The offense and defense split up, and the offensive skill position players jog to the northern end zone on the north field. Richardson takes turns with Minshew and Ehlinger as all three throw five-yard passes.
10:10 — Richardson and the QBs move on to a drill that requires them to drop back, tuck the ball and sprint up field while clearing a mini obstacle course. It starts with them getting hit with pads by assistant coaches, then ducking under a plastic bar and finishing with a dive onto a mattress-like pad. Richardson, the last to do the drill, hops on his feet after completing it and begins high-fiving his fellow quarterbacks along with Colts staffers.
DAY 1: #Colts Camp ✅
— Anthony Calhoun 📺 (@ACwishtv) July 26, 2023
“It’s great. Just having guys from different backgrounds, different parts of the world, it feels good,” Richardson said of the camaraderie in the QB room. “We’re all rooting for each other, but we’re all pushing each other.”
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10:12 — The QBs work on basic handoffs and advance to RPO reps. Richardson ends the drill with a handoff to fellow rookie Evan Hull.
10:15 — The position groups split up again. Richardson, Minshew and Ehlinger work on their intermediate throws to the outside, zipping the ball to a Colts staffer.
10:19 – Richardson speaks to a practice referee and shakes his hand as the offensive skill players rejoin each other near the south end zone of the north field for a few routes on air. Once Richardson is in the red zone, he throws alongside Ehlinger and Minshew. Richardson’s first throw is from roughly the 15-yard line, and it drills Michael Pittman Jr. in the back of the end zone. That’s their first time officially connecting as teammates since Pittman missed all of OTAs and veteran minicamp due to a hip injury.
“My confidence in the playbook. I guess that’s the main thing,” Richardson said when asked what it would take to join Pittman as a starter. “And then my teammates, I feel like the more they trust me, the more they respect me coming out here and just being a part of the team and helping them be better players, I feel like that’s gonna help me and let me know I’m doing something special.”
Veteran wide receiver Vyncint Smith drops Richardson’s next pass on a short comeback route, and the crowd groans. Richardson connects with Granson on the ensuing rep, before delivering a feathery throw to running back Jake Funk, who made an over-the-shoulder catch. Lastly, he hits wide receiver Alec Pierce in the end zone.
Right on the money. pic.twitter.com/ampsPOIoWj
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) July 26, 2023
10:24 — The routes on air continue as Richardson throws short passes to receiver Isaiah McKenzie and a few others.
10:27 — The players come together for their first 11-on-11 session of the day. Minshew takes the field with the first team, and when he wraps up, Richardson high-fives Minshew as he steps in with the second unit.
10:30 — Richardson hits Hull in the flat for his first completion of practice. On the next play, he keeps the ball on an RPO and bursts up the left side for what may have a touchdown in a real game. The rookie completes his second pass off play action to Fernea in the end zone.
10:34 — Ehlinger gets the third-string reps as Richardson watches intently.
10:36 — The Colts switch to 7-on-7, and after a few reps from Minshew, Richardson is back in. He connects with Malik Turner on a short completion but then airmails the next throw over the head of Mike Strachan in the end zone. That’s Richardson’s first “miss” of the day, and he redoes his throwing motion and footwork afterward.
“Before, I used to rely on my arm, because, like you said, I have a big arm,” Richardson explained later. “I didn’t really use my legs as much, so now I’m just getting my feet faster and making sure I’m pointing them the right way and using them to my advantage.”
The rookie bounces back on the next play, rolling right out of the pocket, pump-faking to freeze the defense and ripping a throw across his body to Smith in the end zone. Richardson pumps his first in excitement as the crowd roars.
“It definitely feels good whenever a play works,” Richardson said. “That’s one of our key plays that we like to run, and hopefully we can make it work a lot more. It just feels good when you install something and go out on the field and it works.”
10:41 — Minshew resumes his work with the first team as the Colts go through their second 11-on-11 period. Richardson watches a few feet away, standing alongside Steichen and quarterbacks coach Cam Turner.
10:43 — Richardson is back on the field with the second team unit, but he doesn’t throw. He hands it off to Hull, then twice to Funk on three straight RPO plays.
10:45 — Ehlinger jumps in for third-team reps, and Steichen goes over Richardson’s last few plays with the rookie. Steichen points demonstratively at Ehlinger while he presumably explains what he wants Richardson to focus on.
10:46 —The Colts go into their special teams portion of practice on the north field, while Richardson and the QBs head to the south field for more individual reps. Pittman and Pierce join them, and Richardson delivers a few passes to both as they wait to reconvene.
10:49 — Richardson dances in between reps while Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” blasts through the speakers near the fields.
10:53 — The Colts begin their last 11-on-11 period. As Minshew operates with the first unit, Richardson is once again flanked by Steichen and Cam Turner, who are each pointing and explaining what Minshew is doing. That education briefly continues between the two QBs themselves when Minshew and Richardson switch.
“For me, competitiveness is not wanting him to be bad so I can be good,” Minshew said of Richardson. “I want him to be great, so I have to be even better. And that’s how I think you have to see it. I don’t want an easy competition. I want it to be as hard as possible.”
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10:57 — Richardson is back in action, but defensive end Khalid Kareem bursts through the line and records a “sack” on Richardson’s first play. Since players can’t hit the QBs, Richardson scrambles and eventually turns up field, but in a real game that’s likely a loss. The rookie QB ends his first day with back-to-back handoffs to Funk.
10:59 — The Colts huddle up and end practice with Richardson near the middle.
11:01 — After a quick debrief with Steichen and Cam Turner, Richardson gets some extra throwing reps in alongside Minshew and Ehlinger.
#Colts QB Anthony Richardson on his TC debut:
“The coaches do a great job of preparing us. We gotta do a great job of preparing ourselves. I know the QB room, they’re gonna continue to push me … I was definitely excited to just come out here and showcase what I’m able to do.” pic.twitter.com/O5RzbbZxS1
— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) July 26, 2023
11:12 — The fans begin chanting Richardson’s name as he makes his way to the media tent for his post-practice interview.
11:15 — Richardson begins his interview and recaps his debut at Grand Park.
11:17 — The No. 4 pick slips out of the media tent, hops in a golf cart and is whisked away.
“My first practice I’m like, ‘Wow, this is definitely fast-paced,’” Richardson said. “Cramming all of that within an hour, it definitely gets things rolling, and you gotta be on point.
“The details definitely matter.”
(Top photo of Anthony Richardson: Mykal McEldowney/ USA Today)
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