Chris Ballard: Anthony Richardson is a legitimate passer who will improve the more he plays

Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson had his rookie year cut short by a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.

Richardson said this week that he's not going to change his approach to playing, though he did note he "can’t try to run through everybody." Also speaking to reporters on Thursday, General Manager Chris Ballard said it can be a “tough balance” with Richardson trying to maximize his capabilities while also protecting himself in part because you don’t want to take away what he does best.

“Instinctively when you get in a game, you react to whatever your instincts take you to,” Ballard said in his press conference. “I don’t think Anthony is reckless by any stretch. I didn’t think Andrew [Luck] was either. I think they’re competitive. But learning when to get out of bounds, when to get down versus when to go for it, those are going to be things he’s just going to have to learn.”

Still, there is plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2024 with Richardson at quarterback. After years of cycling through signal-callers, the Colts appear to have some real stability with the QB they picked at No. 4 overall in 2023.

“He’s a good young man who has a lot to learn,” Ballard said. “But here’s what’s good about it him — [he’s] very humble and he has empathy for other people. He cares deeply. He cares deeply about being the best player he can be and cares deeply about his teammates, and he will work. He’s very gifted.

“I’m going to tell you one of the things that really surprised me with Anthony because I was concerned about it, but this guy is a passer. We all kind of — because here’s this big talented athlete. I mean, this guy is a legitimate passer, and I believe that. I think he’s going to continue to get better and improve the more he plays. But Anthony can play from the pocket and throw the ball accurately.”

Richardson was plenty effective when he was on the field. In four games, he completed 60 percent of his throws for 577 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed for 136 yards with four TDs.

“Now, he just needs to play,” Ballard said. “I think sitting, it’s unfortunate but there is always a little light. The ability to be able to sit and watch is going to be beneficial for him going forward.”