Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered a concussion in Sunday’s 31-20 victory over the Houston Texans. Richardson exited the contest during the early part of the second quarter. The dynamic Richardson must start better protecting himself in the open field.
Richardson was off to an outstanding start in what was essentially just one quarter of play. The No. 4 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft completed 6-of-10 passing attempts for 56 yards and already added 35 rushing yards and two touchdowns to his offensive totals. To summarize, Richardson scored two touchdowns on just 18 snaps. The Texans defense had no answer for him.
Richardson allegedly suffered the concussion during his second rushing touchdown, a 15-yard scramble in the first quarter. Richardson appeared to have slowed down toward the end of his run after spotting what he believed to be a clear path into the end zone. The Miami, Florida native then sustained a big hit from closing Texans safety M.J. Stewart, subsequently seeing his helmet land with velocity on NRG Stadium’s unforgiving artificial turf.
Here's the potential concussion play for #ColtsNation QB Anthony Richardson
— Sports Injury Central (@SICscore) September 17, 2023
Rushing lanes close significantly quicker in the NFL than they do in college. Had the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Richardson, who runs a blazing-fast 4.4, not slowed down toward the conclusion of his scramble, he would have better protected himself from the jarring collision provided by Stewart. It should serve as a haunting reminder for the inexperienced Richardson moving forward. NFL defenders are always closing and one must always play at full speed.
Richardson was quickly ruled out after entering into the NFL’s concussion protocol. His status for Indianapolis’ Week 3 contest with the Baltimore Ravens hangs in the balance. The Colts will likely play things safe with their franchise quarterback, setting up veteran journeyman Gardner Minshew to start versus a fierce Ravens defense.
It wasn’t Richardson’s first injury of the young campaign. He momentarily exited Indianapolis’ Week 1 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars as well. Richardson missed the final few plays of that contest with knee and ankle soreness.
Suffering injuries in back-to-back outings as a first-year starter indicates Richardson is still learning how to protect himself. Extending plays with his legs and creating for himself outside of structure is going to remain a big part of Richardson’s game. That rare ability is what makes Richardson so dynamic and special at quarterback.
It’s simply about better protecting Richardson’s body in key moments. It’s a crucial lesson the former Florida standout must learn for longevity’s sake and to extend his pro career. Richardson can improve by sliding when contact is imminent, for example. He must pick his battles and eat the football when there’s little chance of extending plays outside the pocket.
Richardson has outperformed his expectations through two contests. The Colts have been pleased with the maturity and playmaking ability flashed by their rookie quarterback. In order for Richardson to continue on his current trajectory, learning how to protect himself from jarring hits must be a point of emphasis.