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What we learned from Colts minicamp: Anthony Richardson, Joe Flacco take center stage

INDIANAPOLIS — For all of the experience Anthony Richardson gained in his first year as a Colts quarterback, he is still fairly raw, given that he suffered a season-ending injury after just 173 snaps.

The Colts have made it clear there will be some growing pains.

Richardson had a few peaks and valleys during the opening practice of the team’s mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, alternating great throws with a few misses during a practice heavily focused on red-zone work.

The Indianapolis starter completed 4 of 5 passes in 11-on-11 work, completing three to Josh Downs and one to D.J. Montgomery on Richardson’s best throw of the day, a strike fired into the window between two Colts defensive backs.

Richardson had a few more hiccups in 7-on-7 drills, completing 6 of 11 passes. The Colts passer clearly has some chemistry with rookie wide receiver Adonai Mitchell in the red zone, but he also had a few plays where he likely held the ball too long, and he misfired a couple of times on short throws, underthrowing Jonathan Taylor and Tyler Goodson on two of the passes.

But it is also clear Richardson is the leader of the team, as he stepped into the huddle to encourage the second- and third-team units before their sessions, finding receivers to dap them up after nice plays.

There was one moment of worry. Richardson was briefly examined by trainers following one throw to Downs while rolling to the left, but whatever he was feeling did not appear to be serious. Richardson did not miss any reps, used a foam roller on his lower back and sides between drills and then went back to his normal spot in practice.

More Mitchell highlights

With both Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce watching from the sidelines on Tuesday, Mitchell had plenty of opportunity to make plays.

He did not disappoint.

Working primarily against second-year cornerback Jaylon Jones in a series of red-zone drills, Mitchell caught four passes from Richardson in 7-on-7 drills, including a jump-ball touchdown over Jones early, a toe-drag touchdown at the back of the end zone on another play and at least one other score.

Jones made his own plays, breaking up a pass intended for Mitchell in the corner of the end zone as he works with the starting unit on the outside.

Flacco firing

Indianapolis brought in veteran backup Joe Flacco, in part, because of Flacco’s willingness to push the ball downfield in search of the explosive play.

Flacco has offered glimpses of that style of play through the first three practices of his Colts career open to the media.

For example, in one red-zone period of 7-on-7 Tuesday, Flacco fired three touchdown passes, including two where he passed up the open checkdown in favor of the tougher throw at the back of the end zone.

Flacco hit Ethan Fernea on a quick out to start, then fired a laser through traffic to D.J. Montgomery at the back of the end zone when he had a running back open in the flat before finishing it off with another strike to Mo Alie-Cox running toward the sideline.

He has also repeatedly targeted Jelani Woods on intermediate routes during the open practices, although his one throw to Woods on Tuesday was dropped.

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Injury report

Pittman was held out of practice for the second consecutive offseason week after his knee collided with a teammate during an organized team activity two weeks ago.

“We’re going to hold him out this week as well,” Steichen said. “Precaution. That’s it. Get him ready for training camp.”

Offensive tackle Braden Smith (recovery from offseason knee injury), wide receiver Ashton Dulin (recovery from torn ACL) and cornerback Chris Lammons (injured left leg) also did not practice.

Running back Jonathan Taylor, defensive lineman Dayo Odeyingbo, tight end Mo Alie-Cox and linebacker Segun Olubi returned to practice after missing last week.

Tryouts

NFL teams are allowed to bring in players for tryouts during the team’s mandatory minicamp session.

Six players are trying out for the Colts this week. Kansas tight end Mason Fairchild, North Texas wide receiver Kaylin Horton, Chattanooga defensive back Clay Fields, New Mexico State safety Devlin Kirklin and Ithaca safety Derek Slywka are all undrafted rookies. Former Boise State safety Tyreque Jones, who spent time with the Raiders last season, is also trying out this week.

Quick hitters

Backup linebacker Austin Ajiake made an incredible leaping interception off Sam Ehlinger in 7-on-7. Ajiake, an undrafted free agent last year, spent time with the Broncos, Raiders and Packers last season before signing with the Indianapolis practice squad in late December. … Veteran wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, who had eight catches in three years with Denver, made an incredible leaping catch over the top of three defensive backs for a touchdown on the next play.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: What we learned from Colts minicamp: Anthony Richardson takes stage