Notes: Dan Herron gets first NFL start

Second-year running back rushes for career-high 65 yards on 12 carries in Colts' first game without Ahmad Bradshaw.

Eyebrows undoubtedly raised when the Indianapolis Colts started Dan Herron at running back instead of Trent Richardson in Sunday’s 23-3 win over Jacksonville at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Richardson presumably was brought off the bench because he missed practice time during the week with an illness.

Herron, nicknamed “Boom,” ran for a team- and career-high 65 yards on 12 carries and caught five passes for 31 yards in his first NFL start. The second-year pro also lost one fumble.

“I was honored that the coaches gave me the opportunity and the coaches believed in me,” Herron said. Hearing his name called in pregame introductions “was a great moment for me.”

Richardson rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The Colts’ first game without leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday with a fractured fibula, was thought to be yet another opportunity for Richardson to get more snaps. The oft-criticized back, acquired from Cleveland for a first-round draft pick last season, has yet to live up to being selected with the third overall choice in the 2012 NFL draft.

The Colts utilized a Richardson-Bradshaw tandem with Bradshaw coming off the bench before his injury, so Herron is expected to continue to split the workload with Richardson. What will be interesting, moving forward, is how much Herron is used.

“Obviously I felt like I can play a little bit better, but we got the win and it was a good team win,” Herron said.

His lost fumble came at the Jaguars’ 7-yard line on the second play of the second quarter.

“You hate to have that happen,” Herron said, “just got to hold onto it better and keep fighting for it.”

O-line has early issues

The Colts struggled to block Jaguars pass rushers in the first quarter as quarterback Andrew Luck was sacked four times. He also went down a fifth time in the second quarter.

Jaguars defensive end Chris Clemons had three of the sacks, including a forced fumble that the visitors recovered. Luck also lost another fumble on a sack.

“We didn’t do obviously a good enough job,” said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who credited halftime adjustments for shoring up the protection.

The Colts led just 6-3 at halftime. After the adjustments, the Colts scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to put the game away.

“Some bad ball out there at times, but that’s what practice is for,” Luck said. “Proud of the guys to just keep chipping away, staying patient and staying positive.”

Luck’s franchise-record of eight consecutive games with 300-plus passing yards came to an end, one shy of Drew Brees’ NFL record. The Colts passer completed 21-of-32 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown, a 73-yard scoring strike to T.Y. Hilton. The reception tied Hilton’s career long.

Luck did extend another streak of at least 20 completions to 13 consecutive games, one shy of Peyton Manning’s franchise mark.

Four players injured

The most notable of four early exits was starting right guard Hugh Thornton, who suffered a knee injury. Reserve linebacker Andy Studebaker was lost to a hamstring injury. Pagano said both players would be further evaluated in the coming days.

Cornerback Darius Butler, who started for the sidelined Greg Toler, came out late with a neck stinger. Pagano said he thought Butler would be OK.

Rookie special-teams player Loucheiz Purifoy came out to be evaluated for a concussion, but Pagano said Purifoy passed the test.

Noteworthy

Safety LaRon Landry came off the bench and had five tackles including 1.5 sacks. … Adam Vinatieri kicked three field goals, giving him 473 in his career, moving past Matt Stover for fifth on the league’s all-time list. The NFL’s oldest player at 41 years of age hasn’t missed in 25 attempts this season. The streak is at 31 dating back to last season. … While the outcome was in hand, the Colts passed late to extend wide receiver Reggie Wayne’s streak of consecutive three-catch games to 81. His first catch extended that consecutive-games streak to 129, and his franchise record of 200 career games with at least one reception. Wayne tied John Unitas for second on the Colts’ all-time games played list at 206. He needs two more to tie Manning for that record. … Josh Cribbs’ 46-yard return on the opening kickoff was the Colts’ longest this season and longest since Deji Karim scored on a 101-yard TD return in 2012. … Pagano is now 13-1 in Colts regular-season games after a loss.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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