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Trent Richardson a bust so far for Indianapolis Colts

With the Indianapolis Colts nursing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter Sunday night, Andrew Luck took a shotgun snap and stuck the ball into the gut of Trent Richardson.

This was why the Colts got Richardson. They gave up a first-round pick -- gold currency in today's NFL -- for a running back who can grind out tough yards, move the chains and make the clock disappear.

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Richardson took the handoff, bounced to the right and found no room -- a recurring theme. Defenders converged, the ball came loose and was recovered by the opposition. Eight plays later, Peyton Manning was back in the end zone.

The Colts held on for the win, sparing Richardson the sharp blade of criticism Monday. Still, there's no hiding the fact that Richardson's first month with the Colts has been a bust, even if the team has gone 3-1 with the running back in the lineup.

In four games with Indianapolis, Richardson has rushed for 228 yards on 75 carries, an average of 3.0 yards per touch. According to Pro Football Focus, Richardson is ranked 49th among 54 qualifying halfbacks this season.

The big question facing the Colts -- and one we imagine they might be afraid to know the answer to -- is whether Richardson is in a slump, or simply playing to his ability. Remember, Richardson averaged just 3.6 yards per carry during his rookie season with the Browns. That middling production was blamed on nagging injuries and a subpar Cleveland line.

But how about now?

Richardson is healthy (as far as we know) and running behind an offensive line ranked by FootballOutsiders.com as the best run-blocking unit in football. Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Donald Brown have combined for 444 yards on 87 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per rush. Richardson is a curious outlier.

The Colts need Richardson more than ever now. Reggie Wayne is done for the season, a loss that might seriously impact the passing game the rest of the way. If Richardson can fulfill expectations, the offense should survive.

Of course, what the Colts really need is an accurate idea of what they reasonably should expect.

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