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Colts getting early look at offensive additions during OTAs, from Anthony Richardson's pairing with Jonathan Taylor to Adonai Mitchell and Jelani Woods

Richardson and Taylor were on the field together for just two snaps during the 2023 season. 

While the Colts didn't make an bunch of obvious additions to their offensive weaponry this offseason, that doesn't mean this group is the same – or even just a little bit different – as it was in 2023.

And with OTAs beginning this week at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, the Colts are getting an early-stage look at a few players who could give Shane Steichen's offense a distinctly different feel in 2024.

QB Anthony Richardson & RB Jonathan Taylor

Neither player is new for 2024, of course, but the combination of them on the field at the same time largely is. Taylor made his 2023 debut in Week 5 and played just two snaps with Richardson before the Colts' quarterback sustained a season-ending shoulder injury.

Beyond those two snaps, too, Taylor's time with Richardson last year was limited. Taylor did not participate in on-field practices during the 2023 offseason program as he worked his way back from offseason ankle surgery, then spent training camp and the first four weeks of the regular season on the PUP list. Maybe there were a couple of behind-the-scenes plays during practice leading up to Week 5 last year, but the time Richardson and Taylor have spent on a practice field together has certainly been limited.

"It's real nice to have those guys," Steichen said. "We've talked about it before, having him and AR back there, getting those reps together are huge for our success this season. So, to get him out there rolling in these OTA practices, practicing with the guys, it's big."

Richardson and Taylor are two of the Colts' most explosive offensive weapons, and the prospect of pairing them next to each other in the backfield has been tantalizing ever since Richardson came to Indianapolis as the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

And Colts coaches aren't just dusting off the plan they had for those two a year ago. While Steichen and his staff haven't seen both on the field together much, they now are armed with knowledge of what Richardson and Taylor like individually, how each player moves and how defenses defend not only both players, but the entire offense.

For Taylor, these late-spring practices are not only an opportunity to envision how he and Richardson can power the Colts' offense, but are also a chance for him to develop important trust with his quarterback.

"It's just us two back there," Taylor said. "So letting him know, hey, at the end of the day, I have your back. You have the offensive line, you have the guys up front, you got the guys on the perimeter, we have certain checks helping you out. But it's us back there. And I have your back 100 percent.

"If you see something downfield, you want your quarterback to know you have time. At the end of the day, you have time. Whatever you're seeing, whatever you want to do, I'm there with you. Being a running back, it's — a lot of other positions don't have that pre-snap communication with the quarterback. You can be with the quarterback talking like, what do you see here, this might be a check here. You get those little special moments, and that just comes with the position. So just being able to have him know, listen, I'm going to help you out."

WR Adonai Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the last players off the field following the Colts' first rookie minicamp practice earlier this month as the 2024 second-round pick (No. 52 overall) ran extra routes and caught extra passes well after practice ended.

And after Wednesday's OTA practice, Mitchell spent about 20 minutes with second-year cornerback JuJu Brents working on releases, footwork and routes.

"It's impressive to see the way he's working already," Brents told Matt Taylor & Jeffrey Gorman.

The Colts view Mitchell's skillset – he ran a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at 205 pounds at the NFL Combine, and only one player (Devonta Smith) has more receiving touchdowns in College Football Playoff history than him – as a complement within an ascending group of pass-catchers.

"It's fun and it's exciting. Every week we'll have things up for every single guy," Steichen said. "You guys have heard me say this before, but one week Pitt (Michael Pittman Jr.) might catch 10, AD, Alec (Pierce) and (Josh) Downs may catch three or four and then the next week it might flip to another guy. So, just have got to be selfless, those guys. But as far as the scheme goes, it's exciting to have a whole bunch of guys that you can do a whole bunch of different things with."

TE Jelani Woods

While Woods was around in 2023, he didn't get much – if any – offseason or in-season practice time with Richardson as he dealt with hamstring injuries that sidelined him for the entire year. And it wasn't just Richardson who didn't get much work with Woods: The Colts' coaching staff didn't have an opportunity to get their hands on the 6-foot-7, 253 pound tight end who caught three touchdowns as a rookie in 2022.

But Woods has been available throughout the Colts' offseason program, and on Wednesday he rumbled for a big gain on a catch-and-run reception – the kind of play he showed he could make in 2022, but wasn't able to make while sidelined in 2023.

Woods is part of a crowded, competitive tight end room alongside Mo-Alie Cox, Kylen Granson, Will Mallory and Drew Ogletree, all of whom contributed to Steichen's offense in 2023. While nothing is guaranteed, the potential for Woods to earn his way into becoming part of the Colts' 2024 offense is certainly intriguing.

"It's big, missing all of last season and coming into OTAs and finally getting to see him," Steichen said. "I mean I saw him a little bit in training camp, he got the injury, but to see how long he is and how he can run, vertical threat, different things you can do with him. It's good to have him back out there."

The Indianapolis Colts continue OTAs at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

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