The Herald Bulletin

September 18, 2013

Colts make bold move for Browns' Richardson

Indianapolis deals first-round pick for second-year running back

By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin

INDIANAPOLIS — Ryan Grigson's 16th trade with the Indianapolis Colts was his boldest.

By far.

The Colts on Wednesday traded their 2014 first-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for second-year running back Trent Richardson.

The deal was preceded by a few cryptic tweets from owner Jim Irsay about a "monster trade" that would "shock" Indianapolis fans. And the deal certainly lived up to the hype.

Opinion quickly came pouring in from all corners, with many Browns expressing surprise at the transaction on their Twitter accounts and several Colts happily welcoming Richardson to the team.

Indianapolis had been searching for a running back since starter Vick Ballard was lost for the season to a knee injury last week. Cleveland chief executive officer Joe Banner said talks began Tuesday, and the deal was quickly consummated.

Richardson has rushed 298 times for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns in 17 career games. He also has 58 receptions for 418 yards and one touchdown.

The No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft — two spots behind Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck — he helped Alabama win national championships in 2009 and 2011 while playing alongside Colts nose tackle Josh Chapman.

Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi were not in charge, however, when Cleveland traded up to pick Richardson. The running back was not an ideal fit for first-year head coach Rob Chudzinski's offense, and the Browns now will have two first-round picks in which to continue their rebuild next spring.

For Indianapolis, Richardson represents another piece for a young offense that is stockpiling weapons. He'll join Luck, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen as second-year stars for the Colts.

It will be awhile, however, before Richardson plays his first game alongside Allen.

The Colts announced earlier Wednesday that the former Clemson star will undergo season-ending hip surgery. Allen was injured on a third-down play in a Week 1 victory against Oakland.

The tight end leapt for an incompletion from Luck and was hit in the air by Raiders defensive back Tyvon Branch. His right leg landed awkwardly, and his hip hit the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

Allen had hoped to be ready to play in last week's loss against the Miami Dolphins. But the hip did not respond well to treatment, and he went for a second opinion early this week.

Allen is the third starter lost to a season-ending injury by the Colts in the past six days, joining Ballard and left guard Donald Thomas. That fact might have strengthened the urgency to trade for Richardson.

"Like Donald, like Vick, like anybody we've lost at this point, it makes you sick," head coach Chuck Pagano said of Allen's injury before news of the trade broke.

Fleener, Dominique Jones and Jack Doyle are the other tight ends on the Colts' active roster, and seventh-round pick Justice Cunningham is an option on the practice squad.

Fleener's role is certain to expand, though Pagano did not get into many specifics. The 2012 second-round pick had four catches for 69 yards and one touchdown with Allen out against the Dolphins.

"I think we all saw why we took Coby where we took him, what he can do," Pagano said. "Last week, (he) played an excellent football game. Not only in the pass game, he blocked well. He'll continue to do that. He knows his role is obviously going to expand now. We got all the confidence in the world that he'll play at a high level for us, a winning level."

The Colts (1-1) start a difficult stretch of games Sunday with their first road game of the season against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers (1-1). That game will be followed by a trip to division rival Jacksonville (0-2), then dates against Seattle (2-0), San Diego (1-1), Denver (2-0) and Houston (2-0).

Pagano said Indianapolis is well aware of the immediate challenge ahead.

"We're playing a really good football team," he said. "They're well-coached. They've got great players all over the place. So it's more about us. It's more about our preparation. It's more about our focus, knowing exactly what to do so we can go out there and play fast."