Skip to main content

Colts' Anthony Richardson Reflects on Injured Rookie Season

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson revealed key information about his injury rehab and current mindset in his season-ending press conference.

It's been 96 days since Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered his season-ending shoulder injury.

For the 21-year-old out of Florida, those 96 days on the sidelines have been very long. He had only played in four games up to that point before his rookie season was cut dramatically short. The No.4 overall pick that came in with so much hype would not see the field again until 2024.

But as the Colts' franchise quarterback sat down before the media for the first time since his injury in October, that patented smile shined through. Richardson's view on his rookie season may be different than you might expect.

"It's been a great season for me," Richardson explained Thursday. "The injury definitely opened my eyes to the fact that I have to be healthy for the team and for everybody in this building. But it allowed me to slow my mind down a little bit and sit back and really learn the game a little bit despite playing a few games this year. Just sitting back and learning from Gardner (Minshew) and coach Shane (Steichen) and just being in the building a lot. It definitely taught me a lot of things this year."

The biggest question surrounding Richardson is how the shoulder is doing right now. Richardson suffered a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5. Richardson offered more optimism for Colts fans about the progress of that throwing shoulder.

"Pretty good," Richardson admitted when asked how rehab was going. "I'm excited. Every day I'm trying to push the trainers to go a little harder with me so I can get back to throwing, get back on the field. So, everything's smooth right now. I'm excited, I'm just ready to start throwing again."

When the injury first occurred, initial reports suggested Richardson would forego surgery and try to rehab the shoulder to return later in the season. However, after receiving multiple opinions from a variety of specialists, surgery seemed like smarter option for his long-term health.

Oct 8, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) sits on the field with a shoulder injury during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) sits on the field with a shoulder injury during the second quarter against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Because of the type of competitor he is, it took some convincing to get Richardson on board with surgery. He had just started his rookie campaign and could not imagine it being over already. In the end, the quarterback knew what he needed to do.

"Of course, I was hesitant," Richardson remarked. "I didn't want to get the surgery at first. I didn't want to be out for the season. 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 getting different opinions from different doctors, and talking to my agent and my family, they said long-term this was the best thing for me to do. Because if I did try to 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 the ball, I want to throw it too. So, that was probably the best thing for me to do is to get my shoulder fixed up."

It was a lot to take in for a player who had never missed considerable time in his football career. Richardson admitted to going to a dark place after the surgery. He felt like he had let his teammates down. He felt like he had let his family down. What was he supposed to do without football?

"Not going to lie, those first few weeks were definitely hard for me," Richardson remembered. "I've never missed a season of football. I've dealt with injuries before, but never sat out games. Never was told that my season was done and I had to wait. So it definitely did hurt me because this was the first year where I didn't have football to guide me throughout my every day process."

What happens next for the Colts? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second and sign up for our free newsletter and get breaking Colts news delivered to your inbox daily!

What helped the rookie quarterback through those tough times was talking about what he had been feeling. Richardson had long conversations with head coach Shane Steichen and vice president of team engagement David Thornton about how to cope and handle the situation. He talked often with his mother as well.

Through it all, Richardson saw the positives about the situation. He would recover and return to form, and his career was not over. Richardson realized that while he was going through a tough time, he still had a lot to be thankful for.

"I just talked to a few different people when I just sat down and opened my eyes and realized I'm blessed to be in the NFL," Richardson remarked. "I'm blessed to be on this team. I'm blessed to be sitting here talking to y'all. So I just had to look at the bigger picture and just understand it's all a part of the process."

When Richardson does return, there have been a lot of questions about whether the athletic quarterback will change his playing style to avoid this situation again. But Richardson does not see it that way. Instead of changing his playing style completely, it's about being more aware of how to protect himself.

"I don't think so," Richardson answered when asked if he would change his playing style. "It's just a matter of me just being out there and just learning when to get down, when not to get down. Some of the injuries were unfortunate like my ankle getting stepped up on, hitting my knee on the turf really hard, stuff like that. Stuff that I can't control. 

"But the ones that I can control, I got to prevent those. Like me slowing up near the end zone (against the Houston Texans) and getting a concussion. That was completely on me. And then getting tackled, I couldn't really prevent that. I was trying to brace myself for it and unfortunately my shoulder just did what it did. But I don't think I have to change the way I play, just being a little smarter when the time does come."

It will be an adjustment for Richardson when he returns to the field next year. He realizes he cannot run over people in the NFL like he used to at other levels. He must be smart with his body and protect himself to help the team. It is all part of the learning experience for the young player.

Another part of the learning experience is how he absorbs the information he obtained this year. While he could not gain experience on the field, Richardson attained it in other ways.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) passes the ball for a 2-pt conversion during game action against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) passes the ball for a 2-pt conversion during game action against the Los Angeles Rams.

"When I was playing, it was a different type of learning form," the quarterback said. "I was learning on the fly ... day by day (getting) information and trying to apply it. But once I did get sat down with the injury, it kind of slowed me down, slowed our process down to where we could dive deeper into certain things and just learn more about each other besides football. The football part was also amazing. I was actually able to dive deeper into learning about defensive schemes and coverages and stuff. So, I'm definitely excited to see what we're going to do next year."

Richardson has his attention solely on 2024 at this point. This spring will be his first full NFL offseason after using much of the offseason a year ago to prepare for the NFL draft. He plans to take advantage of every moment as he works back to form.

"I'm not going to lie, I've been thinking about this day for a long, long time," Richardson said with a smile. "Just how the offseason was going to be for me. I had other plans. I wanted to actually just take some time and relax. But now with how things are playing out, I'm 100% all steam right now. Gas is all the way to the floor. I'm pushing it because I'm trying to get back. I'm trying to go get (to the) playoffs, go get (those) Super Bowl rings. I just want to be great for this team."

The fire and competitiveness inside Richardson are burning at an all-time high. After watching the Colts go 9-8 this season without Richardson at the helm for most of the year, the anticipation is building for how things might go next year when QB1 returns. There is a noticeable excitement on the quarterback's face when talking about 2024.

"It excites me a lot," Richardson commented. "When I first got here that was my main focus. Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. Get there so we can be closer to a Super Bowl. It's hard in this league, but the team, they fought through it. 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."

The arrow is trending up for Richardson as he cannot wait to return to the field, and fans cannot wait either. Although he could not showcase his talents on the field for very long in 2023, Richardson is ready to show what he learned in his rookie season and how he can be a better version of himself. So, with his rehab reportedly ahead of schedule, when will Richardson begin to throw again?

"I know it's soon, supposed to be sometime next month but I don't have an exact date right now. But whenever that day does come, I'm going to be trying to light it up."

The football world cannot wait to see Richardson lighting it up once again.

Want more Colts content? Check out the latest episode of the Horseshoe Huddle Podcast!

Follow Horseshoe Huddle on Facebook and X, and subscribe on YouTube for multiple Colts live-stream podcasts per week.