Richardson doesn't plan to change style, looks forward to 2024

Jan. 11—INDIANAPOLIS — Anthony Richardson had to be convinced surgery was the best option to put his AC joint injury behind him in October.

The Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback's instincts all told him to play through the pain. But trainers and other team personnel impressed upon the 21-year-old the importance of valuing the long-term future over short-term results.

"I didn't want to be out for the season," Richardson said Thursday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. "Rookie season, first year, I wanted to play. I wanted to be out there with the team, and this injury kind of set me back a little bit. But after talking to the training staff and hearing different things from different doctors and talking to my agent and my family, they said long term this was the best thing to do.

"Because if I did go out there and play again, I probably wouldn't be able to throw it, only just run. And I don't want to just run. I want to throw it, too."

Richardson said sleeping was one of the hardest challenges to overcome with his right arm in a sling for several weeks. He eventually adjusted and began doing as many things as possible with his left arm.

He even idly wondered about becoming a left-handed passer.

That prompted a question from the assembled media. How far can Richardson throw as a lefty?

"About 30 yards," he said to a somewhat stunned reaction. "But I don't know about the accuracy. I'd probably put myself at about 30% accuracy with my left arm."

That was a moment of levity as the quarterback recapped a rookie season during which the Colts and their fanbase got to see a terrific trailer but will have to wait until next season to see the finished film.

Richardson showed plenty of promise in his four starts, completing 59.5% of his passes for 577 yards with three touchdowns and one interception and rushing 25 times for 136 yards and four scores.

His most notable accomplishment was rallying the team from a 23-0 deficit against the playoff-bound Los Angeles Rams to force overtime on Oct. 1. Indianapolis lost 29-23 in the extra period, but it was an early sign of the young passer's leadership abilities.

"I'm excited to get more work with AR," said running back Jonathan Taylor, who played just one snap with the rookie this year. "Just from watching the tape and in person, what I saw, he's very, very talented, but he's also eager to learn. I'm sure you guys have heard he's always walking around with an iPad in his hand or he's walking right next to coach (Shane Steichen). And he's trying to learn. He wants to learn.

"So any time you got someone talented like that but also with that hunger to learn, guys gotta watch out because those are the ones you gotta watch out for."

Richardson's running ability came as no surprise.

He had one of the most impressive athletic performances for a quarterback of all time during the NFL Scouting Combine in February, and he admired dual-threat quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Lamar Jackson while growing up in Gainesville, Florida.

The questions were about his polish as a passer.

Could he make the throws consistently that win games at the NFL level?

It remains an open question, but Colts general manager Chris Ballard believes the available data is highly encouraging.

"This guy's a legitimate passer, and I believe that," Ballard said. "I think he's gonna continue to get better and improve more the more he plays. But .. Anthony can play from the pocket and throw the ball accurately. The guy just needs to play.

"With him sitting, it's unfortunate, but there's always a little light. And I think ... the ability to sit and watch is going to be beneficial for him going forward."

The loss to the Rams was the only game Richardson started and finished during his rookie season.

He suffered a bruised knee that kept him off the field for he final few snaps of the season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and a concussion knocked him out of the Week 2 contest against the Houston Texans early in the second quarter.

His season came to an end for good after he landed hard on his throwing shoulder while being tackled against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 8.

Richardson admits he learned a lesson about not slowing down near the goal line after the concussion, but he doesn't plan to change his style of play in Year 2.

"I've been dealing with that throughout my whole football career," he said. "I'm a big, physical guy. I love playing physical, and people don't really expect that from QBs. So there is a time and a place to be physical. And I love playing physical, so that's my nature.

"... I don't think I played reckless. I think I played the right way, and it was just unfortunate I got injured. But I can't really change the way I play. I just gotta be a little smarter when the time does come."

Richardson hopes to begin throwing again next month, and he'll head to Jacksonville, Florida, to continue his offseason training.

He came into this season with a goal of making the playoffs and watched the team fall just a game short of the postseason without him.

That's raised expectations for 2024.

"It's hard in this league, but the team — they fought through it," Richardson said. "We got close. But I'm excited, excited to get back with the guys, excited to grind hard, excited to get ready for next season.

"I know what we're capable of. I know what we can do. And I'm just ready to showcase that to the world."