WESTFIELD, Ind. – Consider it a necessary but unique classroom experience for Anthony Richardson.
A resplendent Wednesday evening at Grand Park Sports Campus with 6,500-7,000 observers – Colts fans, Bears fans, plenty of each – offering a noisy backdrop.
The Indianapolis Colts’ newly-minted rookie starting quarterback measuring himself against the Chicago Bears’ defense as the NFL neighbors shared the first of two joint training camp practices.
“That’s what these practices are for, right?’’ Shane Steichen said following the two-plus-hour session. “You get to go against another opponent, see different looks. It was good work for him.’’
In 11-on-11 drills against the Bears’ No. 1 defense, Richardson was sharp, and sprightly. He completed 15-of-19 passes and pestered Chicago with his deft read-open skills. Two or three times Richardson pulled the football from the belly of the running back and skirted the ends for reasonable gains.
But, again, it was a learning experience.
During one team session, Richardson patted the football, looked deep and absorbed a sack when his receiver couldn’t shake his defender.
The most glaring miscue surfaced in 7-on-7 when Richardson dropped back, and looked for fellow rookie Josh Downs – he was running a deep post – but was intercepted by Eddie Jackson.
It appeared Downs cut off his route, and Richardson expected him to drift deeper.
“Miscommunication,’’ Downs said.
“That’s the learning,’’ Steichen added. “Take what the defense gives you. We’ve got to be on the same page there. It starts with myself, starts with coaching. We need to get that cleaned up. We’ve got to be better.’’
That’s an adequate assessment of Richardson and the entire offense.
They were successful on a 4-minute drill that started at the Indy 20 and culminated when Richardson completed a fourth-down pass to Downs. He also hooked up twice with Michael Pittman Jr.
But a closing 2-minute drive stalled when tight end Pharaoh Brown was unable to corral a Richardson pass. That possession was hindered from the start when an illegal formation penalty negated a nice gain on a Richardson-to-Brown completion.
The offense’s evening included allowing a pair of sacks and drawing five or six penalties.
“There was good and there’s things we’ve got to get cleaned up,’’ Steichen said. “I did like the energy they played with.’’
As for Richardson, consider Wednesday the next step on his path to starting the Sept. 10 opener against Jacksonville, and the next step toward developing into the quarterback the Colts desperately need.
“With anything, shoot, from a rookie year to year six, seven, eight, nine, 10, you’re still seeing stuff,’’ Steichen said. “And once you get past year 12, 13 and you’re down the road like those guys who have been doing it for a while, they’ve probably seen it all. So, always learning, always growing, always improving.’’
Defensive end Genard Avery was taken off the field on a cart. His injury wasn’t immediately known. Also unable to finish was wide receiver Ashton Dulin (unknown) and starting right guard Will Fries (calf).
Center Ryan Kelly missed another practice with a foot injury.
Right tackle Braden Smith returned after missing time, including the preseason opener at Buffalo, with a knee injury.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.