To this point in his NFL career, it’s fair to say Trent Richardson has been a gigantic bust. On Wednesday Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson all but admitted as much, calling out his 23-year-old running back and demanding he be “accountable” and “answer the bell.” If he doesn’t, there’s a chance Richardson won’t see much playing time this season.
Last September, the Colts sent their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Richardson. The former Alabama star had a disastrous season upon arriving in Indianapolis. He rushed for just 458 yards on 157 carries (2.9 yards per carry) in 14 games with the Colts and looked terrible in doing so.
So far Richardson has rushed for just 34 yards on 14 carries in the Colts’ two preseason games. He is averaging just 2.4 yards per carry which is even less than he averaged last season. He looks nothing like the world-beating monster he was billed to be coming out of college, and if anything he appears to be getting worse.
Head coach Chuck Pagano claims he hasn’t given up on Richardson yet, but Grigson sounded exasperated when asked about the running back he traded away far too much for:
“Trent, he needs to answer the bell and do his job to the best of his ability. He’s such a hard runner, we know how tough he is, but he’s got to produce just like all these guys do on this final 53.”
The problem for the Colts is that they don’t really have any other solid options at running back. Ahmad Bradshaw will almost certainly compete with Richardson for first-team carries, while the team just acquired running back David Fluellen from the Philadelphia Eagles. Stanley Havili is a fullback but he could get some carries in Pep Hamilton’s offense, while Dan Herron, Phillip Tanner and Zurlon Tipton have gotten carries in the preseason.
That’s not exactly a stable of backs that will scare anyone.
Richardson has a golden opportunity to seize the starting role and line up next to Andrew Luck for the next 10 years. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown that he’ll ever grab that opportunity and run with it.