Browns rookie RB Richardson may play in opener
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Sidelined and hidden from public view for nearly a month, Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson might play in Cleveland's season opener.
Richardson, who underwent knee surgery Aug. 9, rode a stationary bike before Saturday's practice and remained on the field with his teammates as they began preparing for next week's game against Philadelphia. Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Richardson has been running — and even taking part in some contact drills— and that if he's able to practice this week, he'll face the Eagles.
"If he's ready, he'll play," Shurmur said.
The No. 3 overall pick in April's NFL draft, Richardson had an arthroscopic procedure done on his left knee last month, his second operation since helping Alabama win the national championship in January. Richardson did not play in any of Cleveland's four exhibition games, and before Saturday the 22-year-old hadn't been seen around Cleveland's training facility except for one day when he came out briefly to sign autographs for fans.
Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert both said Richardson, who has remained in top physical shape while he's been out, has been rehabbing inside and making major progress.
In fact, Heckert doesn't think Richardson needs much practice time to play.
"This kid is a little different cat," Heckert said. "I think he's ready to go pretty quick compared to some guys I've been around. Shape-wise, you do not have to worry about that at all."
Heckert said the Browns will be careful not overload Richardson in his first game, but if he's on the field, he's going to carry the ball.
"I don't think we're going to let him touch the ball 50 times," Heckert said. "But hey, if he's ready to go, he's ready to go."
Richardson was not available for comment. A member of the media relations staff said Richardson left the field early to work with trainers. Reporters are only permitted to watch the first 15 minutes of practice.
The Browns are counting on Richardson to improve an offense that scored just 218 points last season. Simply having Richardson on the field will give the Eagles something to consider when they put together a game plan against a Cleveland team they throttled 27-10 in an exhibition on Aug. 24.
Richardson, who rushed for 3,130 yards and scored 35 touchdowns in college, didn't disappoint the Browns early in training camp before he got hurt and needed surgery. He showed an exceptional burst of speed, good hands and appears to be the breakaway threat the Browns have coveted for years.
Linebacker D'Qwell Jackson compared Richardson to Jacksonville star Maurice Jones-Drew.
"He's a specimen," Jackson said. "He's small, but from my position, when he was practicing, it's hard to find him behind the offensive linemen and he's so quick and has great vision. As long as he stays healthy, he'll be a load for anybody. Not to take anything away from Jones-Drew, he's a tremendous back, I think Trent can be just as effective."