Trent Richardson ready to carry the load

September, 27, 2013
9/27/13
4:15
PM ET
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson isn’t at the point where he can leave and venture around the city without using his GPS yet.

The only place he’s been out to is the Hooters in downtown Indianapolis for some wings and shrimp.

Any free time Richardson has is spent with his eyes in the team’s playbook learning the system with his position coach David Walker.

Two hours before practice, an hour or two after practice.

[+] EnlargeTrent Richardson
AP Photo/Greg TrottNew Colts RB Trent Richardson said he's getting a better grasp of the team's playbook.
“I don’t know anything else about the city, just know my playbook,” Richardson said.

Richardson is about to get tested on how much he knows the playbook because he’ll be the starting running back when the Colts play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been starting, is out with a neck injury. Coach Chuck Pagano said he isn’t sure when Bradshaw injured his neck against San Francisco in the Sept. 22 game, but it’s believed to have occurred in the second quarter. Bradshaw continued to play and finished with 95 yards rushing.

“He’s got no choice, he’s got no choice,” Pagano said when asked if Richardson is ready to carry the load. “Those guys have done a great job. David Walker is a great football coach and a great teacher and he did an unbelievable job of getting Trent ready for last Sunday. He’ll do the same for this week.”

Richardson compared the whirlwind he’s gone through since being acquired from Cleveland on Sept. 18 to when he was juggling playing with the Cleveland Browns and the birth of his son, Trent Jr., at about the same time a year ago.

But things have slowed down for Richardson some this week. He’s getting a better grasp of things. The plays are pretty similar to what he ran in Cleveland and at the University of Alabama. Learning the terminology and knowing the calls, especially when quarterback Andrew Luck calls an audible, are the biggest issues for Richardson.

“As far as game plan, most of it,” Richardson said when asked how much of the playbook he knows. “I know I’m still way behind. I know it’s going to be a long time. Time is going to tell over this week and next week and the week after that."

Richardson and Bradshaw basically played the same number of snaps against San Francisco. Bradshaw had 30 snaps and Richardson was on the field for 28. Pagano said how the game is going will dictate how many snaps Richardson and Donald Brown get against Jacksonville.

“If you can balance it out and keep guys fresh so in the fourth quarter you’ve got fresh guys out there running the football, that’d be great,” Pagano said. “But again, it depends on how the game goes.”

Sunday is about more than Richardson stepping in for the injured Bradshaw. It’ll also likely be the unofficial transition of Richardson becoming the starting running back. He was bound to become the starter at some point but Bradshaw’s injury speeds up the process.

Richardson starting doesn’t signal the end of Bradshaw’s playing time by any means. The Colts need him to get healthy so that they can continue their “power-running” game. Indianapolis is fourth in the league in rushing at 148 yards a game.

“If we have an opportunity like we had last week [against San Francisco] as we move forward, which we plan on and we hope to have more opportunities to finish games running the football, we expect that all of our backs are going to have their fair share of carries,” offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “It’s a long season and the attrition in the National Football League is very prevalent. … We’re going to need all our guys to carry the load.”

Mike Wells

ESPN Indianapolis Colts reporter

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