“Next man up” is the guiding principle at the Colts complex. Problem is, the “next man” wasn’t on the roster when starting running back, Vic Ballard, went down with a season-ending ACL injury in a no-contact practice drill, at least not as far as the front office was concerned.
That all changed Tuesday, when the general manager Ryan Grigson dealt away the Colts’ 2014 first-round draft pick for Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson, who was the 3rd overall pick in the 2013 draft.
“The thing about him is he plays the game the way it’s meant to be played,” Grigson said of Richardson. “He was born to run the football. He’s a powerful back, a back that can avoid tacklers or run over them. He can catch the ball. He adds an element on third down. He’s got a pretty broad skill set in a very compact 220-pound frame who happens to run a 4.48,” said Grigson.
While the media will debate who got the better end of the deal, Colts or Browns, the fact remains that the Colts needed an upgrade at the running back position and that is exactly what they got in Richardson. For the Browns, it likely means a mid-to-late first round pick in 2014, depending on how the Colts’ season shakes out.
Donald Brown’s missed block versus Dolphins linebacker Phillip Wheeler only emphasized the importance of the running back’s role as a blocker, and how games are sometimes won and lost on a single play. Had Brown made that block, the Colts could be looking at a 2-0 record right now. And even though there are 14 games left that single missed block could have playoff implications should the Colts be tied with another team come time for playoff seeding.
But while Richardson will almost certainly be a better blocker than Brown, questions remain about whether the Colts offensive line can run block. If there’s nowhere to run because the blocking isn’t there, then it doesn’t matter how good of a runner Richardson is. Moreover, the loss of tight end Dwayne Allen, who will undergo season-ending surgery to repair an injured hip, means good blocking is all the more precious these days.
Time will tell who got the better end of the deal. Next man up: Trent Richardson at your service.