After spending time recovering from successful season-ending shoulder surgery, quarterback Anthony Richardson returned to Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center to continue his rehab.
Glad to have the rookie back with the team, head coach Shane Steichen said that the next seven weeks will be key to his development.
"Obviously, he's not taking the reps, but he's taking the mental reps in the classroom with us, still going through the game plan meetings," Steichen said. "So, even when he's on the sidelines during games, [he's] taking that mental rep on the sidelines, hearing the calls. I think going through that will be big through the first part of the process."
Sharing in that enthusiasm are his teammates. Namely, fellow quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who has been starting in his place for the past five games.
'He's awesome to have around," Minshew II said. "A guy that everybody kind of respects and resonates with his presence. I think having him in the [quarterback] room is good - and then in the locker room for sure. So, it will be good to get him back around more as we get going."
Richardson's procedure took place on Oct. 24 in Los Angeles, 16 days after the injury occurred in the Colts' Week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans.
Though Richardson and the team weighed their options before deciding on surgery, general manager Chris Ballard said that ultimately they made the decision that was best for the rookie.
"At the end of the day, it's a hard decision, but the best decision for the player was to get it fixed now. And get it done where going forward it won't be any more issues," Ballard said. "Surgery went well, rehab's going well and we'll get him back next season. It's a tough pill to swallow because you want him to get those reps, get those live reps, but it kind of is what it is. You can't map out when things happen like this. They happen and you keep moving forward."
Though surgery provided the team with the best long-term option, the short-term consequence was that it ended what looked to be a promising start for the fourth overall pick.
In four games, Richardson had thrown for 577 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He'd also had 25 rushing attempts for 136 yards and four rushing touchdowns.
Though the sample size was small, Ballard said he's seen glimpses from Richardson that make him excited for the future.
"All the notions of raw, needed work — he exceeded my expectations in terms of, now we saw the poise in college, but the accuracy, his instincts, his ability to create. I think all that was on full display," Ballard said. "There's no doubt things he has to work on, protecting himself being one. He'll learn that — I think all young quarterbacks have to learn that, that you don't have to take the unnecessary shots in this league that you don't have to take. It's okay to slide, it's okay to step out of bounds. I think those are things he'll learn as he plays. But really encouraged about the small glimpse we got of him."