Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson has taken the final snap of his rookie season, opting to have 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.
“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 injury, 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 walking slowly to the team’s medical tent, his shoulder drooped.
Last week, Indy put Richardson on injured reserve as the internal debate over treatment continued.
But 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 his 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.
While Steichen acknowledges the game plan will change, he expects Minshew to rebound this week. Steichen worked with Minshew each of the past two seasons in Philadelphia.
“Obviously, with Gardner in there, we lose some things,” Steichen said. “But again, we have a ton of faith in Gardner and his ability to operate at a high level.”
The bigger question 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. Even 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 selected Richardson as 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, learn it.”