WESTFIELD, Ind. – Anthony Richardson is entering his first NFL game week trending in the right direction, with the 2023 No. 4 overall pick putting together consecutive strong practices over the weekend. But if you think about training camp practices as quizzes and games as tests, Saturday's game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium represents an important milestone in Richardson's rookie-year development.
"It doesn't stop with a couple good (practices)," offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. "You just gotta keep on driving day after day to improve. And so far, he's done a great job of that. And hopefully we'll keep him heading that direction."
Notably, the Colts have stressed Richardson – along with veterans Gardner Minshew and Sam Ehlinger – with "call periods," where the playcall is radioed in to the quarterback's helmet for them to spit out to the huddle. Those simulate game situations, and diverge from other training camp reps where the playcall is scripted going in to practice (meaning the quarterback can study it and practice repeating the playcall ahead of the play).
Richardson has done well in those situations during practice recently, and will be tasked with carrying that same sound operation of the offense into game action on Saturday. Once he gets the playcall in, the Colts will be keeping an eye on a few things Richardson does both before and during each snap.
"Just making good decisions consistently," Cooter said. "Protecting the football. Delivering the ball with accuracy, on time, to the right guy. … We want to go play good football, we want to do it consistently and we want to take care of that football so we have the best chance to have success as an offense."
The Colts' preseason opener, Cooter said, should be an opportunity for players – Richardson included – to showcase what they've learned over the first two and a half weeks of training camp.
As for the flashy splash plays Richardson has made over the course of training camp, the Colts will certainly want to see those too. But if Richardson does take off and run, they also want him to be smart – especially at the end of plays – while also not diminishing how he uses his talent to his advantage.
"You don't want to take their natural playmaking ability away, you don't want to invite caution into their head," Cooter said. "But you also want them to have some understanding of the situation, the stakes and what we're all looking at here when we're talking about a preseason game."