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Practice notebook: For Anthony Richardson, Week 2 isn't about him vs. C.J. Stroud – it's Colts vs. Texans

Fair or not, for as long as they're in the league – especially in the same division – C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson will be compared against each other after going in the top five of the 2023 NFL Draft. 

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This may seem like an obvious thing to write, but we'll write it anyway: Sunday's game is Colts vs. Texans.

It's not Anthony Richardson vs. C.J. Stroud. They won't be on the field at the same time, after all.

But from a storyline standpoint, Week 2 is the first of what both the Colts and Texans hope to be several meetings between Richardson, the 2023 No. 4 overall pick, and Stroud, the 2023 No. 2 overall pick. It'll be just the seventh meeting of rookie quarterbacks picked in the top five since 1950, and just the second time those two quarterbacks have played in the same division.

Richardson, on Wednesday, shrugged all this – the inevitable narratives, the hot takes, the comparisons – off. He had to learn the hard way not to go into a game trying to compete with the quarterback on the opposing sideline in college.

"I try to focus on myself," Richardson said. "I try not to compete against others, I just try to compete against myself every day to get better. Because the last time I was trying to compete with somebody else, I didn't play great. I'm just focused on myself, focused on my details and trying to help my teammates."

That last time came in Week 2 of the 2022 college football season, when Richardson was looking to make a name for himself against another highly-touted quarterback prospect: Kentucky's Will Levis, who a few months later became a second-round pick of the Tennessee Titans. Richardson completed 14 of 35 passes for 143 yards with two interceptions and rushed for a season-low four yards in what wound up a 35-14 Florida loss.

Now heading into his first matchup against Stroud's Texans, Richardson's teammates see the 21-year-old quarterback's attention being squarely where it needs to be.

"I feel like Anthony's got that mentality where he just wants to focus on himself and keep worrying about getting better," linebacker Zaire Franklin said. "And that's all you can do. You can't help who you're going to be compared with." 

Richardson thinks highly of Stroud, and the two have a relationship dating back to their high school days on opposite ends of the country (Richardson in Florida, Stroud in California). The two quarterbacks attended a few high school camps together and have stayed in contact – Richardson said he tells Stroud every time he sees him that he's "a GOAT, he's a baller."

But when it comes to Sunday's game at NRG Stadium in Houston, it's not Stroud who Richardson will face. It's a Texans defense with a hard-nosed mentality instilled by first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans that held Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to a 79.5 passer rating and just 38 rushing yards in Week 1.

"I think he'll be fine," head coach Shane Steichen said. "I think with anything – a lot of the times it's quarterback versus quarterback but to me, it's team versus team. You know what I mean? Go out and perform. It's not quarterback versus quarterback, it's the Houston Texans versus the Colts. That's what we've got to focus on and treat it that way."

Wednesday's practice report

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