It's been 11 months since the the Browns shipped 2012 first-round pick Trent Richardson and his 3.5-yard-per-carry average to the Colts for their 2014 first-round pick. From there it got worse: Richardson managed just 2.9 yards per carry with Indianapolis.
But with that forgettable season behind him, the running back is confident 2014 will be more productive.
“The comfort level is so much better now,” Richardson said, via ESPN.com. “I know the plays, and I'm not playing so tight. I'm really comfortable with the offense, and the timing with the offensive line is coming. I know all my cuts and reads before the snap.”
Coach Chuck Pagano agrees.
“He's getting back to 100 percent, so I think some of those runs you're starting to see, the hard work, the full offseason, the comfort with the scheme, the terminology, being around the offensive guys, the guys that are lined up in front of him blocking and seeing him starting to put a foot in the ground, see a hole, burst through the line of scrimmage, all that stuff is coming,” Pagano said. “It's only going to get better, too, as he gets closer to 100 percent health-wise. Again, he's on track, he's on track.”
With Vick Ballard lost for the season and Donald Brown now in San Diego, the success (or failure) of the Colts' running game rests squarely with Richardson. Of course, there's still the matter of the organization trading that first-round pick for him.
Not to worry, though; 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, weeks before the 2014 draft. "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."