INDIANAPOLIS — Colts second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson has learned the road back from a season-ending injury is not always linear.

“Some days I feel amazing and then some days I wake up like, ‘Dang, my shoulder’s a little achy,'” said Richardson, who underwent right shoulder surgery last season. “But every day, I work. Whenever I finish rehab or I’m in a weight room lifting, it’s like, ‘OK, I’m back.’

“Because I remember a few months ago, I couldn’t even lift my arm up.”

Now, Richardson is doing that and then some.

The 2023 No. 4 overall draft pick returned this week to full-squad workouts for the first time since his injury, participating in the Colts’ first week of OTAs. It represents a major step in the progression of the young quarterback, who played just four games as a rookie last season.

Retaking his place as the franchise quarterback was meaningful for Richardson after the significant chunk of missed time.

“It’s what I love to do,” he said of playing football. “Being out here with the guys, spending [the day] with them … Is amazing.”

He added, “I’m blessed to be here.”

Richardson sustained an AC joint sprain in a Week 5 game against the Tennessee Titans last season, cutting short what seemed like a promising rookie season. He spent the ensuing three months watching, even as Houston Texans rookie C.J. Stroud — playing for one of the Colts’ AFC South rivals — put the finishing touches on a prolific rookie season that earned him offensive rookie of the year.

Those experiences only served to create a greater desire within Richardson to make it back. Indianapolis plays Houston in Week 1 following a season-ending win by the Texans that clinched a playoff spot and knocked the Colts out of the postseason.

“I’m always excited to play football, but my guy [Stroud], he got the W at the end of the season last year, so I’m excited for our offense to get going against him this year,” Richardson said. “I’m just ready to see what’s going to happen.”

In the meantime, it’s about working toward that day. Richardson, coaches say, was a diligent student throughout his time on injured reserve. And he’s maintaining that approach this spring, hunkering down with coach Shane Steichen and his assistants to increase his command of an offense he was only able to run for a short period in 2023.

“I’m more comfortable with the offense now,” Richardson said. “I have a year under my belt. Not a year [of] playing time, but just being in the meetings every day. Then, just studying all the time. Coming here early in the morning meeting with Shane, that’s something I take pride in because if I know the offense inside and out like Shane does, then I think we’re going to be unstoppable. So, I’ve just got to keep perfecting it and just keep trusting myself and trusting the offense.”

As for how Richardson has performed, he had some moments of brilliance along with some less-than-perfect moments. A pass into traffic to top receiver Michael Pittman Jr. during Wednesday’s practice, which was open to reporters, was one Richardson might have wanted back.

Pittman collided with a teammate while attempting to make the reception, then fell to ground in pain. He remained there momentarily before limping off the field. Steichen later said Pittman “bumped knees” with another player and “should be fine.”

Overall though, the impressions of Richardson were promising, Steichen said.

“I think with any player, you have a little rust every once in a while,” he said. “But he’s been pretty smooth out there so far, completing a lot of balls. Completion percentage has been good, knowing where to go with the football, which is a good sign. I like where he is at right now. Big time.”


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