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Colts' Richardson returns to practice

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson was back on the practice field Wednesday.

Whether he starts Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams is still to be determined.

Coach Shane Steichen told reporters the highly touted rookie would take all the snaps with Indy's starting offense, clearing another hurdle in the concussion protocol before reclaiming his starting job.

“They’re still in the protocol still but they’re going to practice today,” Steichen said, referring to Richardson and three-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kelly, who both missed last weekend’s 22-19 overtime victory at Baltimore.

Neither Richardson nor Kelly spoke with reporters Wednesday.

Richardson, the fourth overall pick in April’s draft, was selected as the starter in mid-August. He started each of Indy's first two games but couldn’t finish either because of injuries.

In the season-opening loss to Jacksonville, Richardson left in the final minute with what he described as a bruised knee and sore ankle. The bigger concern came in Week 2 when Richardson ran for two first-quarter scores at Houston but was knocked to the ground while crossing the goal line on the second TD, sending Richardson's head bouncing hard off the turf.

The former Florida star played two more series before telling the team’s medical staff he might have a head injury. Richardson did not return to that game, missed all of last week’s practice then sat out as Gardner Minshew led the Colts to an overtime win at Baltimore last Sunday.

“Gardner knows everything,” receiver Michael Pittman Jr. said following the win. “You can plug and play him. He doesn’t panic, he’s always calm. He took a couple big shots. He stuck in there and he played very hard.”

The early signs appear promising for Richardson's return this week.

He traveled with the Colts to Baltimore, even provided some sideline advice. He also attended his brother's high school football game Monday. Steichen's announcement may have been the most encouraging sign for the AFC South-leading Colts (2-1), who have won two straight since snapping an eight-game losing streak that went back to last November.

What remains to be seen is whether the 6-foot-4, 244-pound Richardson changes the way he plays.

He dazzled scouts with an athletic performance at the league's annual scouting combine in March, looking like a natural fit in today's trendy run-pass option offense because of his size, speed and arm strength.

But after the Jacksonville game, Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence advised Richardson to protect himself. Richardson had joked with reporters that he had only slid seven times in his career.

“There’s a bit of a process for every quarterback kind of learning how to handle that the best, learning how to best finish certain runs and best sort of handle himself near sidelines,” Colts offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said.

“Anthony is obviously extremely athletic, made some great runs (at Houston) and this will be part of his continued understanding and development — kind of figuring out how to avoid certain hits and being able to keep going.”

If Richardson does return this week, there's also a good chance he'll have his starting center back, too. Kelly also was injured in the first half at Houston, self-reported the injury and missed all of last week.

Indy has already had three players — Richardson, Kelly and tight end Drew Ogletree — in the concussion protocol this season.

Kelly was replaced in Baltimore by Wesley French and while Minshew was sacked five times, the offensive line still cleared enough space for Zack Moss to run 30 times for 122 yards, both career bests.

Now they're just hoping to get back to full strength against the Rams (1-2).

“I'm glad he's back,” said rookie receiver Josh Downs, Richardson's training camp roommate. “Great player. He's going to go out there, make some plays for us with his legs and his arm.”



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