Is Trent Richardson no longer starting?

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano says practice will determine his starting running back for Sunday. Dan Herron made his first NFL start last week instead of Trent Richardson.

There appears to be a changing of the guard as a result of Hugh Thornton’s knee injury, but is it possible the same is true for the Indianapolis Colts’ running backs?

The presumption about Dan Herron making his first NFL start in Sunday’s 23-3 home win over Jacksonville was that it became necessary because Trent Richardson missed one practice due to an illness.

But on Wednesday Colts head coach Chuck Pagano initially made it sound like Herron, the second-year back nicknamed “Boom,” performed at a higher level in practice last week, thus he started instead of Richardson, who also shared snaps against the Jaguars.

“We went through the week of practice and Boom practiced extremely well and we started Boom,” Pagano said rather succinctly when the subject was first broached.

That begged the obvious follow-up question: Will Herron start Sunday when the Colts (7-4) host the Washington Redskins (3-8) at Lucas Oil Stadium?

“We’re going to see how the week goes,” Pagano said. “Again, I’ll go back to they both practiced well last week. We all know that Trent missed last Wednesday when he was out sick, but they both practiced well.

“We’ll see how they practice this week and make a decision.”

That the position requires a decision comes as somewhat of a surprise, considering Richardson started nine previous games with leading rusher Ahmad Bradshaw coming off the bench. Bradshaw was lost for the season to a fractured fibula suffered Nov. 16 against New England.

That gave Herron a promotion from his usual game-day duties on special teams. But eyebrows raised when Boom’s name was called during pregame introductions.

While the Colts have been steadfast in their support of Richardson in the past, it would appear the team has at least for the moment changed its staunch position on the oft-criticized running back who, fair to say, has underperformed.

Richardson has been the subject of continual scrutiny since the Colts traded a 2013 first-round pick to acquire the former No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft. He averaged just 2.9 yards per rush in 14 games with the Colts last season and has bumped that number to just 3.4 in 10 games this season.

Herron outperformed Richardson against the Jaguars. Boom ran for a career-high 65 yards on 12 carries, a 5.4-yard average, and caught five passes for 31 yards. The one blemish was a lost fumble.

Richardson ran for 42 yards on 13 carries, a 3.2-yard average, with a 1-yard touchdown run and didn’t catch the one pass in which he was targeted.

Oh, and for those keeping track of that other possible changing of the guard, Thornton didn’t practice Wednesday after suffering his injury against the Jaguars. Joe Reitz and Xavier Nixon got the snaps at offensive right guard.

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

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