WESTFIELD, Ind. – Even the first pass Anthony Richardson threw – an early-morning completion to a wide receiver while the nearest defender was on a different practice field – elicited a cheer from Colts fans posted up at Grand Park for Wednesday's training camp-opening practice.
Fans have clamored for a glimpse at Richardson ever since the Colts used the No. 4 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select the Florida signal-caller back in April. On Wednesday, those fans saw a quarterback who looked like he belonged both physically and mentally in an NFL practice.
For those with the Colts who've been with Richardson for the last few months, though, what everyone else saw Wednesday didn't come as a surprise.
"I thought he did a nice job," head coach Shane Steichen said. "I think what he did in the spring learning the system and then carrying it over into today, I thought he made some good plays."
The Colts' hour-long practice Wednesday was crisp and didn't appear to be littered with mental errors and mistakes, even as skill position players rotated in and out with Richardson, Gardner Minshew and Sam Ehlinger taking snaps throughout the morning.
The pace of practice stood out to Richardson, who threw a touchdown in an 11-on-11 red zone period and, in the same drill, also rifled a pass out of the back of the end zone instead of forcing a dangerous throw that could've led to a turnover.
"Cramming all that within an hour, it definitely gets things rolling," Richardson said. "You gotta be on point. Detail definitely matters."
That's where all the work Richardson put in this offseason, both at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and away from the team facility, made an impact to kick off camp. Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. said he's seen Richardson constantly studying – including during a gathering of Colts quarterbacks and skill position players in Miami this summer – to the point where it's sometimes hard to draw his attention away from his playbook.
"He's always working and just has a great work ethic," Pittman said. "And I just can't see him not being successful (with) the work he puts in."
The physical traits possessed by Richardson – his easy-heat arm strength and powerful speed and mobility – will be readily apparent throughout training camp. But the mental aspect of the game is where Richardson hopes to see progress, and how he handles that challenge will go a long way in determining his readiness to make his NFL regular season debut.
"He's very even-keeled. He's very stable in that," general manager Chris Ballard said. "He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get too low.
"Until you get into the fire, you don't really know. And the pressure on that position, we all know — especially when you draft one high, he's automatically stamped as the automatic savior before he's ever played a down. And him and I have had long talks about being able to handle the highs and lows of the position, because you have to. Even the established ones that will have down moments and all of a sudden the world says they're done, it's a week to week league. That's just what our league is.
"How you perform week to week is pretty much what people are going to write. And you gotta be able to handle that. You gotta be able to handle the good and the bad and take both in stride."
Steichen felt like training camp practice No. 1 was a good beginning for the 21-year-old Richardson. Now, it's about handling the ups and downs of camp, the playbook and everything else that comes with the spotlight attached to a rookie quarterback taken in the top five.
"The more (my teammates) trust me, the more they respect me coming out here and being a part of the team and helping them be better players," Richardson said, "I think that's going to help me and let me know I'm doing something better."