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Colts running back starting to show signs of progress

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TRENT Richardson doesn’t call it a break-out game.

But he does embrace his season-best performance as a harbinger of better things to come.

And if he’s right, that’s good news not only for himself but for a stale Indianapolis Colts offense that typically doesn’t go far on the ground.

“It felt good to get back in there and get back into the groove,” Richardson said of his contributions in last week’s 25-3 win against the visiting Houston Texans. “I know all the plays now. I was able to play fast and not be thinking about a lot of stuff.

“When you’ve been in the situation I’ve been in, it’s kind of a tough transition from one team to another.”

Richardson was referring to his in-season transition from the Cleveland Browns’ backfield to the Colts. Acquired in a Week 3 trade with Cleveland, the second-year running back has been a major disappointment, rushing for only   390 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.

Of all the numbers, the most discouraging is his average per carry, an anemic 2.9 yards heading into Sunday’s game at Kansas City.

But if his effort against Houston is an indication, perhaps better things are in store for Richardson and the running game. And in light of Donald Brown’s uncertain status for Sunday, the timing for a turnaround couldn’t be better.

Although the numbers didn’t dazzle, Richardson had season-high totals of 19 carries and 64 yards against the Texans.

The numbers included a season-long run of 22 yards and a 3.4 yards-per-attempt average.

In addition, the 5-foot-9, 225-pound back had four catches for 38 yards and a touchdown, showing glimpses of the versatility that were the hallmark of a successful rookie season in Cleveland.

Richardson, who lost his starting job two weeks ago to Brown, saw extended action when Brown went out with a stinger in the first half and did not return.

Brown is considered day-to-day, possibly setting the stage for another heavy workload for a player still getting acclimated to his new surroundings.

“I feel good. That’s the most (work) I got this year, but I’m glad they got to see what I could do with a whole full game, even in the receiving game,” Richardson said. “It felt good being out there and being able to do what I could do.”

Regardless of Brown’s availability moving forward, the AFC South champion Colts still are counting on Richardson to not only boost the running game but to enhance their playoff prospects, as well.

Trumpeted as Super Bowl contenders earlier in the season, that hype has dissipated in recent weeks, thanks in no small measure to the Colts’ inability to establish rushing traction.

Still reeling from the season-ending loss of wide receiver Reggie Wayne, the offense has been largely stagnant, with quarterback Andrew Luck shouldering too much of the burden to make plays behind a porous offensive line.

Richardson is confident help is on the way.

“I think we’re at our best when we’re able to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage,” he said. “We left a lot of points out there (against Houston), and we could have played better.

“But we’ve just got to capitalize on everything we do. Just with the with offense, up front, with the receivers catching the ball, running backs making plays, quarterback making a good look and play-calling.

“Like I said, if we control that line of scrimmage, I think we’re at our best.”

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