How Colts QB Anthony Richardson's shoulder looked in first public throws since injury

INDIANAPOLIS — The play was everything the Colts drafted Anthony Richardson to be.

Richardson rolled left, long strides churning out the distance, and then, all of a sudden, he saw tight end Kylen Granson come free up the sideline and fired on the move, finding a leaping Granson deep down the sideline for an explosive play in Wednesday’s organized team activity.

The arm, the shoulder that was surgically repaired last season, looked strong.

Looked the way Richardson is supposed to look.

“Any time he can get out of the pocket, and he creates those, as we know, but to have that throw,” Indianapolis head coach Shane Steichen said. “Where it was, the touch he threw with it, and the catch was incredible by Granson.”

The Colts have been quietly confident in Richardson’s recovery for a long time.

This was the plan all along. When Richardson and the team decided the young quarterback should undergo surgery to repair the sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder, the decision was made for Richardson’s long-term prospects, to make sure the young quarterback wouldn’t lose any of the remarkable traits that made him the No. 4 pick in the draft.

He underwent surgery in October.

Richardson started throwing again in February.

“That was even two months ahead,” Richardson said. “But they told me by the three-week mark, I could start ripping it.”

The doctors wanted to see how Richardson’s arm handled the stress of the throw before letting him take the governor off his arm.

Richardson was throwing the ball 20 to 25 yards by the end of the first week.

Two weeks later, he was throwing with velocity, pushing the ball further downfield.

What he showed Wednesday, the ability to flick the ball deep in individual drills and against defenses, has been there for a while.

“I feel like myself again, throwing 60-plus (yards)," Richardson said. “It’s probably been a few months now.”

There have been milestones he has to hit, milestones he’s pushed ahead of schedule.

But that doesn’t mean it has always been linear.

“Every day’s different,” Richardson said. “Some days I feel amazing. Some days I wake up, I’m like ‘Dang, my shoulder’s a little achy.’ But every day, whether it’s doing rehab or I’m in the weight room lifting, it’s like, ‘OK, I’m back.’ Because I remember a few months ago, I couldn’t even lift my arm.”

Outside of the doctors telling him it was OK to cut loose, it is hard for Richardson to draw a line between rehabilitation and relatively normal work.

When he was still at Florida, Richardson adopted a series of workouts designed to preserve the long-term health of his arm and get it ready for practices.

“The stuff I do in rehab, I was doing the same things before I got injured,” Richardson said. “It just feels like a regular routine for me, getting my arm ready to go out and throw.”

From the looks of it, Richardson did not appear to face any restrictions during the team’s organized team activity.

The second-year quarterback took the first-team reps on his 22nd birthday, clearly embracing the leadership role that goes with being with the team’s starting quarterback. When the team finished stretching and broke into position groups, Richardson ran far ahead of everybody else to the other field, and when the team came together to start working on different periods, he headed over to dap up every wide receiver, tight end and running back working with him.

Richardson was doing that stuff in training camp last August.

Seeing him do it now is a sign the shoulder injury is in his memory now.

“When you’re injured, one, you don’t feel good, and two, you know there’s a time span from when you will feel good,” running back Jonathan Taylor said. “You want to fast forward, but you know it’s a process. It feels really good to see someone get back to themselves.”

Not everything was perfect on Wednesday.

Richardson threw an interception to safety Daniel Scott in 7-on-7 drills, missed a throw here or there, sometimes rolled out and held onto the ball a tad long in team drills.

But that’s the stuff any second-year quarterback is doing in organized team activities right now. As many flashes as Richardson showed in his brief time last year, there are still going to be growing pains for a young quarterback with just 173 offensive snaps under his belt.

The good news is Richardson is focusing on the plays he’s making in practice, rather than the shoulder that was surgically repaired last offseason.

“With any player, you’re going to have a little rust, but he’s been pretty smooth out there so far,” Steichen said. “Completing a lot of balls, the completion percentage has been good, knowing where to go with the football. … I like where he’s at.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts QB Anthony Richardson makes 1st public throws since injury