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Trent Richardson won't have reduced role with Colts

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Averaging an embarrassing 2.0 yards per carry over his past three games, infamously sluggish running back Trent Richardson has finally inspired Indianapolis Colts fans to break out the boos and catcalls.

Although Richardson has been outplayed by every back to audition in the Colts backfield the past two years, coach Chuck Pagano is not yet prepared to wave the white flag on a young player acquired for a first-round draft pick.

"He's a professional, he understands," Pagano said Monday, via ESPN.com. "None of us can ever get away from working at our craft regardless of the circumstance, regardless of adversity, just keep grinding, just keep working, just keep swinging the ax. If he keeps swinging the ax, the tree will fall. If you put the ax down, the tree is never coming down. Just keep chopping wood, and good things will happen."

Richardson's ineffectiveness was never more apparent than Week 13, when he functioned as a drive-killer on his possessions while a more dynamic Boom Herron averaged 11.0 yards per carry.

In just his second game since entering the backfield rotation, Herron rushed for more yards (88) than Richardson ever has in a Colts uniform.

Since arriving in Indianapolis last October, Richardson has averaged a damning 3.1 yards per carry. By contrast, Herron (5.4), Donald Brown (5.3), Vick Ballard (4.8) and Ahmad Bradshaw (4.7) have excelled behind the same offensive line.

Despite that eye-opening discrepancy in production, Pagano has not yet had his hand forced. Herron has been charged with two fumbles and put the ball on the carpet a third time in the past two weeks. Richardson, meanwhile, is the backfield's best pass protector and a capable receiver.

While previously buried backs such as Herron, C.J. Anderson, Justin Forsett, Jonas Gray, Latavius Murray and Isaiah Crowell are stealing headlines, Richardson is reduced to justifying a third-down role.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Sunday game from Week 13 and debates whether Johnny Manziel deserves the starting job. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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