By any measure, Trent Richardson had a dreadful 2013 season. He managed just 2.9 yards per carry in 14 games with the Colts, and in the process made the Browns look like geniuses after they shipped him to Indy for a 2014 first-round pick.
But the Colts remain steadfast in their assertion that Richardson is legit, and it's only a matter of time before he shows it. The latest from ESPN's Jim Trotter:
Coaches also say Richardson is relying more on his instincts when running instead of thinking it thru. Has a chance to be a 3-down player.— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) June 19, 2014
The thinking, at least according to the Colts: Richardson is more familiar with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton's playbook, which means he'll be playing football instead of thinking about playing football, a phenomenon that apparently paralyzed him at times last season.
This is the hope, anyway. Both Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw are returning from major surgeries. If either (or both) can approach their previous form, that would provide some measure of security should Richardson continue to struggle.
Still, despite what the team might say, giving up a first-rounder for Richardson remains a horrible decision. As we wrote last season, the Colts running game wasn't in need of fixing. Yes, Ballard was lost for the season, and Bradshaw lasted just three games. But through the first three weeks, Indianapolis had the league's second-ranked rushing attack, according to Football Outsiders, behind the run-happy Eagles.
Of course, depending on your perspective, the Colts didn't really give up a first-rounder.
"I think we do have a first-round pick -- and that's me," Richardson said back in April. "They spent their money on me in the first round. No pressure toward proving to everybody else, just proving to me that I can be the best."