'Because he's our starting running back'

Trent Richardson's rushing numbers have fans responding with boos, but coach Chuck Pagano stands by his back.

Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson heard the boos at Lucas Oil Stadium when he touched the ball on Sunday.

He knows the doubters are everywhere, except in the head coach’s office.

Chuck Pagano made it clear where he stands on his oft-criticized running back in Wednesday’s weekly press conference.

The coach was asked what he sees in Richardson that others don’t?

“As far as?” Pagano asked.

Why does Richardson keep getting carries when he’s going nowhere?

“Because he’s our starting running back,” Pagano said.

Yeah, but why?

“Because he’s our starting running back,” Pagano repeated with a stern stare.

Two weeks ago, Richardson missed a practice due to illness and second-year back Dan Herron was given his first NFL start. Pagano said last week the Colts would decide who started against Washington based on practice performance.

Richardson started and rushed for 12 yards on eight carries, a 1.5-yard average. His season average is 3.3 yards per carry, up from 2.9 with the Colts last season.

Herron subbed in and rushed for a career-high 88 yards, including a 49-yard TD run, on just eight carries. Herron has 227 rushing yards on 42 carries, a 5.4-yard average this season. He’s caught nine passes for 48 yards. But he’s also lost fumbles in each of the last two games.

Richardson’s best rushing total in 25 games with the Colts was 79 yards in Week 2 against Philadelphia. He has 445 yards on 132 carries with three TDs this season. He’s caught 22 passes for 203 yards.

The team’s previous leading rusher was Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran for 425 yards on 90 carries, 4.7 per carry, and caught 38 passes for 300 yards and six TDs before being lost to a season-ending fractured fibula against New England on Nov. 16.

Richardson was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft and the Colts gave up a 2014 first-round pick to acquire him from Cleveland early last season. The Colts (8-4) are at the Browns (7-5) Sunday.

He was asked about the fans’ boos in Sunday’s 49-27 win over Washington and what he would say to naysayers.

“You know what? To the naysayers, man, I just say God bless ‘em,” Richardson said. “At the end of the day, that’s their job, that’s their job to, you know, criticize me or boo me, whatever. It is what it is. But when I’m scoring touchdowns, you know, they all love me. At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, man, God knows what’s best for me.

“So when I’m out there scoring and I’m out there getting yards, when everybody’s cheering and cheering, you’ve always got to have it in the back of your head that, you know, hey, there’s going to be some people out there still talking smack, you know, when you’re not doing so good, talking smack at the same time. You’ve got to have it in your head, you’ve got to have that chip on your shoulder at all times. I heard the boos last game. It is what it was. But a lot of people didn’t see the holes weren’t there or I had to break tackles at the beginning of the plays.”

Richardson said his offensive line is getting better, as proved by Herron’s production. He complimented his teammate, nicknamed “Boom,” and said it’s not about who starts, that everybody plays beside each other as teammates.

Pagano was initially asked who is his third running back and when the Colts might use him? Rookie Zurlon Tipton is the answer.

“He’s ready to go, Pagano said, “and if we need him, that’s when you’ll see him.”

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

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