NEW YORK -- The September trade that sent Trent Richardson from Cleveland to Indianapolis for a 2014 first-round draft pick was supposed to serve as a final piece of the puzzle for a young Colts team bursting with promise.
But instead of giving Indy's offense a punishing foundation back, T-Rich churned out just 458 rushing yards at a troubling 2.9 yards per clip. Two seasons into his career, Richardson barely resembles the decisive, hammer-dropping back who pummeled defenses at Alabama, but Colts tight end Coby Fleener says it's too early to write his teammate off.
"I still think it was a great trade for us," Fleener told Around The League on Friday. "Our front office has done an awesome job putting together teams from Day One. I think that acquisition is going to be huge for us and pay dividends in the future."
Richardson, for brief moments, flashed strength and raw power last season, but too often he was painfully hesitant in the backfield. The runner rarely broke into open space, but Fleener quickly dismissed the idea that Richardson's play was a disappointment.
"Let me stop you right there," the pass-catcher told ATL. "I think part of it is you're coming into an offense that's probably one of the most complex in the NFL. And so for him to play a week after being there was impressive because it took me a year and a half to learn the offense. I think this camp will do him a lot of good, and then you guys can judge him after that."
The T-Rich swap, today, feels expensive and dicey -- and many have written him off as a looming bust -- but Fleener is correct: It's too early to make that call.