The Indianapolis Colts remain tight-lipped on whether Trent Richardson will play extensively or at all in this Sunday’s upcoming Divisional Round game against the Denver Broncos:
"“We’re going to evaluate the situation as we go through the week and we’ll know more as we go through the week,” Pagano said (Per ESPN’s Mike Wells)"
Dec 28, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) carries the ball against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
The Colts’ former starting running back played in only one snap for the team in last weekend’s Wildcard win against the Cincinnati Bengals. It should be noted; however, that Richardson was officially listed as “questionable” on the team’s injury report and was apparently battling an illness leading into the game.
The Colts said Richardson was the 3rd running back because he missed practice time, but it raises the question of whether he was finally benched for ineffectiveness all together. In what has been a disappointing 3rd-year season for Richardson, the running back has rushed on 159 carries for 519 rushing yards and a subpar 3.3 yards per carry average.
When Dan “Boom” Herron fumbled for the 2nd time this past Sunday, it was actually 3rd-string running back Zurlon Tipton that received the nod over Richardson in his relief. Tipton rushed 11 times for 40 rushing yards and a 3.6 yards per carry average, as he closed out the game for the Colts in the final minutes.
Even despite his running woes, Richardson may still be the Colts’ best pass protector in the backfield. According to ProFootballFocus (subscription), Richardson has a +2.8 grade in pass blocking which leads the Colts. To put that in perspective, Herron has a +1.2 grade in that area. However, it’s worth noting that Herron really shined in this area in last weekend’s win:
If Herron can continue to improve in pass protection, Richardson may not have a real role with the Colts going forward besides being their 3rd running back. Tipton played fairly well in last Sunday’s win, and Herron has shown considerable more explosion and bust throughout this year’s regular season. It’s worth noting that Michael Hill was also signed to the team’s active roster for additional running back depth earlier this week.
UPDATE: Trent Richardson has been practicing on special teams in this week’s practices as noted. It’s looking as though he’s been unofficially demoted to the 3rd-string running back, but it’s not definitive yet.