Colts’ Adonai Mitchell calls Anthony Richardson a ‘created player’ as duo builds chemistry

INDIANAPOLIS — Adonai Mitchell hasn’t seen anything like Anthony Richardson. The Indianapolis Colts rookie receiver knew the players in the NFL would be different, but nothing he’s seen in his career prepared him for his new quarterback.

Richardson is one of one, Mitchell said, the kind of athlete that makes him rethink what’s possible.

“He’s like a created player,” Mitchell said Tuesday before the Colts began their first day of veteran minicamp. “He’s like one of them players that can legit do anything on the field. You talk about arm strength? Crazy arm strength. This man can roll right, throw on the opposite hash to the left. It’s a lot of stuff I ain’t seen before.”

Mitchell described Richardson as a “freak.” The 22-year-old QB scored seven total touchdowns in just four games last year, making several explosive plays, before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. Richardson is now fully healthy again, and he’s quickly gotten on the same page as his new target.

After flashing their potential as a duo during OTAs, Mitchell and Richardson picked up where they left off. They connected on two TDs in the red zone during seven-on-seven drills Tuesday. On the first one, Mitchell beat Jaylon Jones and twisted his body to haul in an over-the-shoulder grab.

“You talk about just building chemistry, I’ve just been excited,” Mitchell said. “Every time I step up on the field, I’m like, ‘Man, what are we gonna get today?’ I can’t wait to see it, I can’t wait to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to play with it.”

Mitchell added that “the play is never over with” when Richardson has the ball in his hands, so it makes their scramble drills even more important. Those reps came in handy on their second TD connection Tuesday as Richardson rolled to his right and scrambled a bit before delivering a strike to Mitchell, who leaped to snag the ball out of the air near the back pylon while still managing to tap his toes and stay inbounds.

Mitchell played against Richardson in the SEC, and after watching what Richardson did to some of his former college teammates, he’s thrilled to be on the same side as Richardson in the NFL.

“It’s been fun just learning each other,” Mitchell said. “Just kind of what he likes to do, kind of what I think as a receiver and just kind of mixing the two. Because once we’re on the same page, if the whole offense is on the same page with that one man, it’ll be a very special year.”

Richardson’s best throws came during the seven-on-seven period, but overall, he had an up-and-down day to open veteran minicamp, including a few plays when he held onto the ball for too long. The second-year QB finished 4-of-5 passing in 11-on-11s, with three completions to Josh Downs and one to D.J. Montgomery. Richardson’s lone TD in 11-on-11 was on a lofted pass to Downs that didn’t come off Richardson’s hand clean and fluttered through the air.

After one throw during team drills, Richardson briefly left the field with a grimace on his face. He dropped to his knees on the sideline, took his helmet off and reached for his lower back while being looked at by an athletic trainer. Richardson then used a foam roller to roll out his lower back, and he eventually resumed all individual and team drills.


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Something to prove

Alec Pierce is well aware of the chatter. He knows that of the wide receivers who were already on the Colts’ roster, Mitchell’s arrival could affect him the most.

Pierce has been Indy’s top deep threat the past two years, but neither campaign has been very fruitful. He’s totaled 73 catches for 1,107 yards and four TDs in 33 games. Asked if he still views himself as a starter and the Colts’ WR3 behind Michael Pittman Jr. and Downs, Pierce quickly agreed.

“I think it’s my job to go into camp and prove that,” Pierce said before minicamp began Tuesday. “Just gotta let my work on the field speak for itself.”

Pierce, who did not practice Tuesday due to an undisclosed reason, still praised Mitchell. He noted that the rookie is really explosive and “a guy that can win one-on-one matchups.” As Mitchell continues to display his upside, Pierce believes he hasn’t reached his ceiling, either. The 24-year-old, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, said he added 5 pounds this offseason so he can absorb contact better and make more plays.

“I think there’s a lot more to my game,” Pierce said. “I just want to have the chance to be able to showcase that, and I’m just working every day in practice to earn those reps and show what I can do.”



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Season-ending injury

The Colts drafted Daniel Scott in the fifth round in 2023. He won’t make his NFL debut, at the earliest, until 2025.

Coach Shane Steichen announced Tuesday that Scott, who missed his entire rookie season due to a torn ACL and had worked his way back to full strength, tore his Achilles during OTAs last week and will miss his second consecutive season. Steichen said his heart goes out to Scott, whose NFL career has been derailed before it could truly begin.

“Even when he got hurt last year, he was at every practice; he had a script in his hand and was taking mental reps,” Steichen said. “And then he was doing a hell of a job out here in OTAs, and then to have that happen to him again — I mean, it’s a tough break.”

Scott intercepted Richardson during a seven-on-seven period in the first week of OTAs and had a chance, though perhaps slim, to earn the Colts’ starting free safety spot. Asked if Indy will sign another safety, Steichen said the team is “always looking,” though he obviously wishes Scott’s absence wasn’t a new factor to consider.

“You never want it to happen back-to-back years, right?” Steichen said. “But you’ve seen guys that have injuries throughout their careers, major injuries (and bounce back). It’s a bump in the road for him, and he’s going to have a positive outlook on it and attack that rehab like we all know he’s going to.”

Without Scott in the mix, that makes the battle for Indy’s starting free safety spot more of a head-to-head race between Nick Cross and Rodney Thomas II. Cross took most of the first-team reps Tuesday, as he has so far this offseason, with Thomas rotating in. Cross said he feels a lot more prepared entering his third year in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s scheme. His knowledge will be put to the test this summer and potentially throughout the season if the Colts pass on signing a proven veteran.

“The comfort level comes every day, every rep I get, every film clip I watch,” Cross said. “Everything I do out there, I’m getting a little more comfortable every time I do it.”



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Other injuries

Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. will not practice for the second straight week after banging knees with Jones during a collision on the second day of OTAs. Steichen said the Colts’ decision to hold Pittman out was precautionary and to “get him ready for training camp.”

Right tackle Braden Smith (knee surgery), wide receiver Ashton Dulin (ACL recovery) and cornerback Chris Lammons (boot on left ankle/foot) remain sidelined, as well.

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Running back Jonathan Taylor (personal reasons), defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo (wedding) and tight end Mo Alie-Cox (undisclosed) all missed at least one OTA session last week but returned to action Tuesday.

(Photo: Kelly Wilkinson / IndyStar / USA Today)

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