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Richardson practices, could play in Browns' opener

Associated Press Modified: September 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm •  Published: September 3, 2012

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Trent Richardson has practiced with the Browns. All that's left is for him to play.

Cleveland's rookie running back returned to practice Monday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery on Aug. 9, a strong sign he will play in Sunday's season opener at home against Philadelphia.

With his dreadlocks flowing out of his orange helmet, Richardson took some snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense during the portion of practice open to the media. He had a black rubber sleeve on his repaired left knee, which has been operated on twice since he helped Alabama win a national championship in January.

After the workout on a warm, humid morning, Browns coach Pat Shurmur sounded optimistic about Richardson's chances of facing the Eagles.

"If he's ready to go, he will be our starter," Shurmur said. "Trent looked good. He was in team (drills). I knew he'd be out here and he did a good job. It was his first day back in practice, so we did what we could do. Trent looked healthy running around."

Shurmur wouldn't say when a decision will be made on Richardson making his pro debut .

"Each person is different when they come back from injury," he said. "We'll see as we go. All along I've been hopeful that he'd be there.'

The Browns will have their only practice in full pads this week on Thursday, when they will work primarily on short-yardage situations. Richardson missed Cleveland's four exhibition games and it will be important for him to take some hits before getting on the field against Philadelphia.

Richardson was not available for comment. A team spokesman said the 22-year-old will likely speak with reporters Wednesday.

The No. 3 overall pick in April's draft, Richardson had been doing rehab, including some light contact work, behind the scenes since his operation.

After stretching with his teammates, Richardson was taking part in some passing drills when Shurmur pulled him close for a brief chat, perhaps reminding his young star not to overdo it. Moments later, running backs coach Gary Brown called out a play and quizzed Richardson about his assignment.

"What's the key on the chip (block)," Brown asked before complimenting Richardson for answering correctly.

With low expectations for a team featuring 15 rookies and facing a brutal schedule, the Browns will need Richardson to take on a heavy workload this season. But because he missed so much time during the preseason, they will likely limit his carries in the first few weeks.

However, once Richardson is rolling, Browns cornerback Joe Haden said there may be no slowing him down.

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