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Colts’ Richardson handles demotion like professional

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Give Trent Richardson credit. He’s not producing and, as a consequence, isn’t starting.

But he isn’t sulking.

He’s too busy lauding the guy who took his job, the once-forgotten Donald Brown.

“It’s only fair that Donald be the starter, especially the production he’s been putting up and the numbers,” said Richardson, demoted last week because his own numbers are abysmal. “He’s been playing good ball.”

Brown, at the very least, has played better than Richardson. Much better. So much so that coach Chuck Pagano, no doubt reluctantly, did last week what fans have clamored for. He declared Brown the starter.

And the fifth-year pro didn’t disappoint.

On an otherwise

dismal day for the Colts’ offense, Brown was one of the lone sparks.

He carried 14 times for

54 yards and a crucial touchdown during a 22-14 win against Tennessee.

Although the numbers didn’t dazzle, they were

— as usual — far better

than Richardson’s.

In a change-of-pace role, Richardson ran eight times for 22 yards against the Titans, demonstrating yet again that the Colts, in all likelihood, sent a 2014 first-round draft pick to Cleveland for a first-

round bust.

Richardson’s demotion appears to be the Colts’ first subtle admission that maybe, just maybe, they made a colossal mistake.

Be that as it may, Richardson — the No. 3 overall pick of the 2012 draft — is handling the change like

a pro.

At least outwardly.

A starter since his junior season at Alabama, Richardson is not only OK with coming off the bench but he applauds Pagano for making what was clearly a difficult, if not painful, call.

“Donald’s been doing a good job, and I think he deserves every bit of the starting position,” Richardson said. “Will my role change? I doubt it. I don’t think it’s going to change. I’m still going to go in. I’m still going to get my reps, and coach (tells) me that nothing’s going to change.

“It’s just that Donald’s starting the game, and he deserves that.”

No matter who gets the nod, the Colts’ running game won’t exactly sizzle.

The offensive line is too porous, and neither Brown nor Richardson is a top-flight runner.

But Brown has clearly been the better of the two.

Acquired in Week 3, Richardson became the starter by injury default when Vick Ballard (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) were lost for the season. Richardson has carried 139 times for 411 yards and two touchdowns. He’s averaged 3.0 yards per attempt and hasn’t been in the end zone since a Sept. 29 win at Jacksonville.

By comparison, Brown has rushed 71 times for 378 yards, averages 5.3 yards

per carry and has scored four touchdowns in the past four games.

Not surprisingly, Colts’ coaches shrug off the role reversal as mere semantics, in that both backs will get carries. But as the numbers reflect, the best back is starting in an offense that, by original design, was supposed to be built around a power running game.

Richardson, at the cost of a first-round draft pick, was supposed to be the power supply. Now, he’s part of a power-share and no longer the primary source.

To date, Richardson has shown zero capability of that. It’s why Brown starts.

Yet despite his diminished role, the Colts won’t give up on Richardson, and he won’t give up himself. And to his credit, he’s handling it like

a pro.

“There’s going to be a lot more offense left in me,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunities to make a lot of big plays, just as Donald’s role was when he wasn’t a starter. Like I said, there’s a lot of opportunity for both of us, for him to show the world what he’s been working on, for me to show the world what I’ve been working on.

“We’re just going to combine everything.”

Rick Morwick is the sports editor for the Daily Journal, a sister paper to The Republic. Send comments to

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