Aug 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) runs with the ball against the New York Giants at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

What's Trent Richardson's Next Step?

Some players come into their own in the preseason and some try to regain their moxie.

But Trent Richardson has not gained back any of his moxie.

This was supposed to be the year where Trent Richardson steps up again. After a positive rookie season and a terrible sophomore slump, this year was supposed to be his comeback year. His form from Alabama would be back and he would once again regain the All-Pro potential that he was drafted for.

However, the Alabama product has gotten nothing going for him this preseason.

Richardson recorded 51 yards off of 20 preseason carries so far, good for a horribly mediocre 2.6 YPC average; that’s 0.3 less yards than last year. His YPC is worse than every other quality running back in the NFL with exception of Matt Forte. He does look more comfortable in the offense but continues to fail at taking the next step. He doesn’t take advantage of holes, hasn’t found the ability to pass block and doesn’t power himself into more yards.

But because the running back situation is so brittle right now, Richardson will start several games, despite possibly doing badly in all of them.

Ahmad Bradshaw has shown nothing in his limited preseason action to show Colts fans that he’s a reliable safety valve if Richardson can’t turn it back on. Dan Herron is a solid backup running back, but won’t be given reps until Richardson proves that he can’t crank out yards for the Colts any longer.

Richardson’s offensive line hasn’t done him any favors; the two tackles are pretty exclusively pass-blocking tackles while injuries have decimated the interior of the line. Anytime that a team’s starting running back is running behind an interior of Jack Mewhort, Jonotthan Harrison and Hugh Thornton, he can’t be expected to get everything. It’s tough for any running back to gain positive yardage if he’s getting hit behind the line of scrimmage every single play. If the offensive line can’t shore up, then neither can Richardson.

If fullback Stanley Havili can come back from a shoulder injury and make the team, it should make for a boost in Richardson’s production. Mario Harvey has been somewhat decent this preseason with blocking, but has shown no ability to catch the football. The Colts will probably keep him on the roster as a project/backup player but let Havili take the job back as the starter.

Overall, this is a big season for Trent Richardson and the entire Indianapolis Colts running game. The line has to step up in order to pave way for the running backs and the fullbacks will need to play better than they have to create positive running yards.

However, it’s exclusively on the shoulders of the former third-overall pick for the Colts’ running game to improve.

Tags: Indianapolis Colts Trent Richardson

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