Trent Richardson finding his comfort zone

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Trent Richardson thought his left hamstring would be fine after slightly injuring it during one of his final workouts in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida, prior to returning to Indianapolis for the start of training camp. That’s why the Indianapolis Colts running back was on the field participating in the first day of training camp practice July 24.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano saw something different. He saw a player running gingerly, and that wasn’t cutting it with the coach.

Pagano, who has dealt with too many players missing games because of injuries, wanted Richardson to be as close to 100 percent as possible before taking the field.

“He said there was no reason to be out there if I wasn't going to be moving 100 percent,” Richardson said. “Coach didn’t think it was fair that I was out there.”

Richardson waited, waited and waited some more until he was cleared to resume practicing Wednesday.

The wait paid off because the player who struggled after being acquired from the Cleveland Browns last season had an impressive week of practice.

It’s been obvious Richardson is more comfortable in the system. He has gone from thinking too much after taking the handoff to running off his natural instincts and with explosion.

“He’s getting back to 100 percent, so I think some of those runs you’re starting to see, the hard work, the full offseason, the comfort with the scheme, the terminology, being around the offensive guys, the guys that are lined up in front of him blocking and seeing him starting to put a foot in the ground, see a hole, burst through the line of scrimmage, all that stuff is coming,” Pagano said. “It’s only going to get better, too, as he gets closer to 100 percent health-wise. Again, he’s on track, he’s on track.”

Richardson’s role in the offense became even more important once running back Vick Ballard was lost for the season with a torn Achilles. Richardson, the likely starter, and Ahmad Bradshaw are the Colts' two primary running backs.

Practice is one thing, but Richardson will be judged off what he does when the games count. If last week was any indication, he’s definitely on his way to improving on the 2.9 yards per carry he averaged for the Colts last season.

“The comfort level is so much better now,” Richardson said. “I know the plays, and I’m not playing so tight. I’m really comfortable with the offense, and the timing with the offensive line is coming. I know all my cuts and reads before the snap.”