The Colts this week held their first of OTA practices of 2023 at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, which provided quarterback Anthony Richardson with his first opportunities to test himself against an NFL defense – even if it was just in a structured shorts-and-helmets environment.
Those reps Richardson took this week were split between the Colts' first- and second-team offense, with veteran Gardner Minshew alternating in with the 2023 No. 4 overall pick.
"When you get those reps over and over and over again, you become become a better football player," head coach Shane Steichen said. "Especially learning a new system, seeing different looks from the defense — there's a lot of stuff that's gonna get thrown at him along with everybody else. And that way we can judge and see where he's at."
The key for Richardson over the next weeks – OTAs run through the first full week of June, then a three-day mandatory veteran minicamp will wrap up the offseason program June 13-15 – will be to take the coaching points and concepts he learns off the field and apply them to his work on the field. So far, the Colts have been impressed with how Richardson has handled the mental load of learning an NFL offense.
"He's done a really nice job," Steichen said. "I've been really pleased with where he's at mentally. He made some big plays today on the football field, made some great throws, great decisions — some really next-level stuff that I've seen over the last couple of days. So really pleased with where he's at."
Steichen added Richardson has been "taking on the coaching really well," which tracks with how quarterbacks coach Cam Turner described him earlier this month.
"He just wants to be coached," Turner said. "He's hungry. He wants to learn. I don't think he wants it a specific way — he just wants to learn. He wants to be coached, he wants to watch guys do it on film, he wants us to explain things. I don't think he has a preference of how you coach him, he just wants to be coached."
Minshew, too, has fit into the Colts' quarterback room as well as the team expected he would back when he was signed in free agency.
"Gardner's done a hell of a job taking him under his wing in that quarterback room," Steichen said. "Obviously he's got experience, he's played a ton of games in this league. But he's done a really nice job, really pleased with where he's at with everything we're doing on offense and helping Anthony at the same time."
The Colts will "see how it plays out" with Richardson and Minshew splitting first-team reps this spring, and will develop a plan for both when training camp opens this summer. But while it's early, Steichen and Colts players have already seen Richardson do some impressive things in the first week of OTAs – whether he's practicing with the first team or second team.
"He's definitely very mature," tight end Mo Alie-Cox said. "Excited to watch him work. Sometimes it doesn't even look like he's throwing a ball – he's just like flicking it and it gets there. You can just tell all the tools are there. You can see his confidence is growing every day the more and more reps he gets. Now they're starting to work him in with the ones and stuff like that. From Monday to today you can see the improvements. The sky is the limit for him."
Check out photos as the Colts continued with Day 2 of OTAs on Wednesday.