INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson has taken the final snap of his rookie season, opting for season-ending surgery on his injured throwing shoulder.
Coach Shane Steichen confirmed the decision before Wednesday’s practice.
Steichen said the team consulted multiple medical officials, weighed the long-term health of Richardson and his future with the franchise before everyone agreed surgery was the best option. Steichen did not say when the surgery would take place.
“I thought when he played, he was explosive and he was electric,” Steichen said. “He gives us an opportunity every time he steps on the field — just his big-play ability, throwing the ball downfield, the runs he had, the touchdown runs. There is tremendous opportunity going forward.”
Those runs also made him susceptible to injuries, though.
The 6-foot-4, 244-pound Richardson suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder at the end of a short run Oct. 8 against Tennessee. He hit the ground awkwardly, stayed down several minutes as medical staff treated him before he walked slowly to the team’s medical tent, his shoulder drooped.
Last week, Indy put Richardson on injured reserve as the debate over treatment continued.
Richardson also sat out the final minute of the season opener with a bruised knee and sore ankle and missed six more quarters after entering the concussion protocol during the first half of a Week 2 game at Houston. He only finished one of four starts.
Veteran Gardner Minshew replaced Richardson all three times and will now make his third start with the Colts (3-3) on Sunday against Cleveland. Minshew is coming off his worst performance of the season, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble, in a 37-20 loss at Jacksonville.
Minshew’s presence, Steichen acknowledges, will force some changes in game planning, but Steichen believes Minshew will rebound this week. The two worked together each of the past two seasons in Philadelphia.
Still, this isn’t the way Minshew wanted to get the starting job.
“That’s not the news that any of us want to hear, especially when he was doing so well, playing well, everybody’s feeling good about it,” he said of Richardson, “To be kind of shut down, we’ve got to kind rally around him and support him and keep him involved.”
Initially, the plan was to pair Richardson in the backfield with 2021 NFL rushing champion Jonathan Taylor. But Taylor missed all of the team’s offseason workouts and training camp, the entire preseason and the first four regular-season games as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery.
The result: They played together for one snap before Richardson got hurt.
“I think I saw someone who was very poised,” Taylor said when asked about his observations of Richardson.
“You guys saw the Rams game, to be down 23 and see guys rally around him, that’s what you want out of a leader.”
The bigger question moving forward is how Richardson’s absence could impact his progression?
He started only 13 games with the Florida Gators and some scouts thought he was more of a project than a plug-and-play starter because of his limited college experience. And after taking Richardson with the fourth overall pick in April’s NFL draft, Steichen and general manager Chris Ballard talked about the need to get Richardson as many snaps as possible this season.
Steichen announced Richardson was the starter after the Colts preseason opener, and he was off to a promising start.
Richardson threw for 577 yards, three TDs and one interception while completing 59.5% of his throws. He also rushed 25 times for 136 yards and four TDs, becoming the first quarterback of the Super Bowl era with TD runs in each of his first three NFL games.
Now Richardson will be relegated to watching, listening, learning and cheering on his teammates as he rehabs from surgery.
“Tremendous competitor, great player but longevity in him needs to be at a premium,” Steichen said. “Moving forward, he’ll be engaged, he’ll be in the meetings, he’ll be there at practice, and he’ll learn from this year, sitting back and watching it, learning it.”
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