LaRon Landry starting, T-Rich status unknown

Coach Chuck Pagano says safety LaRon Landry has starting job back, but a decision on running back Trent Richardson for Sunday's playoff game will be made at the end of the week.

LaRon Landry is evidently back in the good graces of the Indianapolis Colts.

And running back Trent Richardson? Stay tuned.

The NFL playoffs often translate to lineup changes. Landry was listed as a backup safety, but started and had three tackles in Sunday’s 26-10 AFC Wild Card playoff victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said Wednesday that Landry, suspended four games after Week 4 for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy, had earned his job back. He’s actually started three consecutive games instead of Sergio Brown.

Richardson didn’t play last weekend after missing practice time due to illness. Pagano has said in the past that he’s his “starting running back,” but the coach declined to divulge his backfield plans for Sunday’s AFC Divisional playoff game at the Denver Broncos.

“We’re going to evaluate the situation as we go through the week and we’ll know more as we go through the week,” Pagano said of Richardson, who averaged a disappointing 3.3 yards per carry this season and has not delivered on expectations after being acquired from Cleveland for a first-round selection two games into the 2013 season. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft averaged 2.9 yards per rush in 14 regular-season games for the Colts last season.

Second-year pro Daniel Herron started and had 141 total yards last Sunday, the most yards for a Colts running back this season. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry and had the team’s longest rush, a 49-yard touchdown run, in the regular season.

Landry, like Richardson, has been a disappointment since joining the team in 2013. The Colts thought they had added a 2012 Pro Bowl safety when he signed a four-year, $24-million contract, $14 million of that guaranteed.

The 6-foot, 226-pound defender has an established reputation for being a physical hitter in his eight seasons. But he was often exposed in pass defense.

Brown, a special-teams ace in his fifth season out of Notre Dame, was a solid replacement while Landry was inactive for five weeks. But Brown didn’t get any defensive snaps against the Bengals.

Asked about if that was because of the opponent or the team moving forward, Pagano said, “Just moving forward.”

So it’s fair to say Landry has worked his way back in the lineup.

“Yeah, he came back and he was a backup,” Pagano said of Landry’s return from the suspension. “We asked him to do this, this and this and he would participate on special teams and he did that. He split time. His reps every week continue to go up and he’s played well. Sergio has played well but (Landry has) earned his job back, so that’s why he’s back starting.”

In 15 regular-season games, eight of them starts, Brown had 33 total tackles, six passes defended, one sack and one fumble recovery. In 11 regular-season games, six of them starts, Landry had 39 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hurries. He was not credited with a pass defended.

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

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