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Colts offensive lineman Jamey Richard played less in his second season than as a rookie, but said his approach was the same each season: to be prepared when his number was called.

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Colts Interior Offensive Lineman Jamey Richard Focused on Again Earning Playing Time

INDIANAPOLIS – Jamey Richard won't say it was easy.

Richard, an interior offensive lineman entering his third NFL season, got a strong taste of playing in the NFL – and playing an extensive role – in his first season, so when that went the opposite way in his second season . . .

Well, he said no way it wasn't difficult.

But Richard, who played collegiately at the University at Buffalo, said while he may not have played much in his second NFL season, he did believe he improved during the season, and that the experience of not playing may actually benefit his future.

"It's life, obviously," Richard said recently during the Colts' 2010 organized team activities, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented activities that concluded at the Indiana Farm Bureau Center on June 11.

"It was difficult. I enjoyed playing when I was a rookie, and I'm doing everything I can to get back out there and play like I did that season."

Richard, after being selected by the Colts in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, played extensively as a backup that preseason, then started in place of injured Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday in the first two games of that season.

He later started two more games for Saturday, then started three games at guard, giving him seven total starts as a rookie.

This past season, with Saturday and the rest of the line staying healthy, Richard played far more sparingly, being active in three games and playing in one.

"Obviously, this is a team and whatever's asked of you to do, that's what you do," Richard said. "We'll see what the future holds."

Richard said he doesn't know precisely what the immediate future holds, but said what he does know is he will enter camp doing what he can to earn more playing time than last season.

And he'll do so on what is expected to be a competitive offensive line.

The Colts early in the off-season released long-time starting left guard Ryan Lilja, and now have seven guards on the roster: Kyle DeVan, a 2009 starter at right guard; Mike Pollak, a 2008 starter at right guard; Jaimie Thomas, a 2009 seventh-round draft selection; Jacques McClendon, a 2010 fourth-round draft selection; Richard; 2010 collegiate free-agent Gregg Peat; and Andy Alleman, a third-year veteran who signed this off-season as a veteran free agent.

"I think particularly on our line, I think it's going to be a very good, solid competitive situation," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "It's like my old high school coach would always say, 'Cream will always rise to the top,' so we'll see what happens.

"Certainly, what we're looking for is improvement. That's the key. We want to become a better unit overall, in all phases as a result of our work this spring and also in training camp as well."

They also have seven tackles – 2009 starters Ryan Diem (right) and Charlie Johnson (left), as well as 2007-08 starter Tony Ugoh, rookie free agents Andrew Tyshovnytsky and Jeff Linkenbach, first-year veteran Gerald Cadogan and Adam Terry, a fifth-year veteran who signed as a free agent after five seasons with Baltimore. Colts President Bill Polian earlier this off-season referred to the offensive line competition as throwing the linemen "into a pot."

"We'll play the five best players," Polian said. "Position doesn't really mean much."

Whether or not he is one of those five players, Richard said his attitude and approach won't change much. He said he prepared the same in each of his first two seasons – as a rookie when he played extensively and last season when he was a backup – and he said his preparation will stay the same. He said he learned last season the imance of being prepared whatever the circumstance, and that actually, it was a lesson he learned early in his NFL career.

"I'd say that was the case both years, really," Richard said. "It taught me you have to prepare no matter what. There were a couple of times where I got thrown in in the middle of a game when I was a rookie. Last year, obviously there were a lot of games I didn't get into, but you still have to prepare as if you are going to play."

And this season? How will he prepare?

"I'm not worried about that,' Richard said. "I'll be ready when my number's called."

Richard said that preparation began this off-season, and it actually never stopped happening. He said he believes he improved last season mainly because he strives to do so in the off-season or regular season – whatever the circumstance.

"I like to think so," Richard said. "I feel if you're not getting better, you're getting worse. Last year, obviously I didn't play as many games as I did when I was a rookie, but I still practiced just as much. I played in one of the games on offense, so that's 15 days difference when you think about it.

"All of the other days are still spent doing the same exact thing."

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