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Anthony Richardson feels like himself again as Colts' OTAs begin

Richardson took the field for OTA practices at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this week, which were his first offense-versus-defense practices since October. 

Wearing a Tyrese Haliburton jersey and referring to the Indiana Pacers as "we" – like a true Hoosier – Anthony Richardson, on his 22nd birthday, laid out the main goal he's working toward for the 2024 season.

"I just want to stay healthy this season, be out there for the team, play the best I can play," Richardson said after the Colts' second OTA practice of the 2024 offseason on Wednesday. "Not necessarily chasing a perfect season because I know it's never gonna happen, despite how much I want it to happen, it's never gonna happen. So I just want to make sure I'm on point and just do my job one play at a time. And if I do that, then that might be the perfect season. Just focus on one play at a time, that's all."

While the spotlight in Indiana may be on the Fever, Pacers and racers as the month of May winds down, soon enough, it'll find its way back squarely to Richardson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft who offered a tantalizing glimpse of what could be before he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5 of his rookie year.

And as Richardson has digested the premature end to his first year in the NFL, he steadfastly believes he does not need to change his playing style to stay healthy. Richardson took responsibility for the concussion that knocked him out of most of Week 2 and all of Week 3 last year – he slowed up just before crossing the goal line on his second touchdown rush against the Houston Texans, leading to a hit that resulted in a head injury – but the collision that ended his season is one of those plays that just sometimes occurs in football.

"Changing my game and my play style, I don't feel like there's anything wrong with my play style," Richardson said. "People see me, I'm a big quarterback, so they always think oh, he wants to run the ball all the time, he wants to be physical and that's what's going to get him hurt. And that's not the case."

Richardson may have explosive running ability, but turn on the tape and you'll see a quarterback who keeps his eyes downfield both in and out of the pocket. He's not necessarily a run-first quarterback. But when he does take off and run, Richardson said he wants to be smarter in the hits he takes based on the situation of the game.

"It just happened because we play a dangerous game," Richardson said. "It's nothing I can do about that. Necessarily changing my play — I don't think I want to change it. But being smart and knowing when to get extra yards and knowing when to get down, I feel like I know how to do that. It's just, now I have to do it and do it at the right time. I don't think I'm going to change anything but being smarter for the team, of course."

Richardson, who underwent surgery last fall to repair an AC joint sprain in his right (throwing) shoulder, said he began throwing again in February. About three weeks after he started throwing, he was cleared to start "ripping it," and he's steadily progressed since.

"Now I kind of feel like myself again," Richardson said, "you know, throwing 60-plus (yards)."

The ball exploded out of Richardson's hand during Wednesday's OTA practice, and has been described by his coaches, there weren't any lingering signs of last year's injury. While the on-field install work the Colts are going through is important, the last few weeks of meetings and film study have been just as meaningful for Richardson as he applies what he learned behind the scenes last year to this year's offense.

And Richardson is confident that as long as he can stay healthy and continue uncovering more answers within head coach Shane Steichen's offense, good things are ahead for the Colts in 2024.

"I'm more comfortable in the offense now that I have a year under my belt — not a year of playing time but being in the meetings every day," Richardson said. "And just studying all the time, coming here early in the morning, meeting with Shane, that's something I take pride in. Because if I know the offense inside and out like Shane does, I think we're going to be unstoppable. I just gotta keep perfecting it and keep trusting myself and trusting the offense."

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