Here are some highlights from Browns coach Pat Shurmur’s morning news conference, the 15-minute portion of practice open to reporters and locker-room interviews from this afternoon:
Rookie running back Trent Richardson said the only thing that could prevent him from making his NFL debut in the regular-season opener Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles is a coach's decision.
“I think coach knows best as far as me having a good career and stuff like that, so if he don’t feel like I’m ready, that’d be the only that’d keep me out," said Richardson, who's attempting a comeback after having knee surgery Aug. 9. "I mean but other than that, mentally I’m ready to go and I’m taking it day-by-day and we’re gonna really see what’s gonna be the results on Sunday.”
Richardson practiced Monday for the first time since Aug. 6 and again today. Shurmur said Richardson has not experienced any ill effects, and Richardson said he hasn't been bothered by the knee or experienced any swelling in it.
“No, he looks great,” said Shurmur, who also previously stated he’s “very optimistic” Richardson will be able to play Sunday.
Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, missed most of training camp and all four preseason games after having a piece of loose cartilage removed a four weeks ago. He also had surgery Feb. 3 to have a torn meniscus repaired in the same knee.
"It doesn't worry me at all," Richardson said. "I'm very confident in my knee. I try to be 110 percent in everything I do. I know coach is going to put me in the right situation with the right trainers and our medical staff, they're doing everything they can to get help me back to 120 percent, not 110. I can tell the big difference now, and it's not going to give me any trouble down the line. I'm ready to go."
Richardson said he's eager to play.
"I couldn’t stand watching the preseason games and not being out there," Richardson said. "It’s been a long time since I’ve touched the football. I just felt like, man, I’ve got to make sure I’m a part of this team. I’ve got to get on that field and contribute to this team. So just watching them, I was very antsy. I just had to take that time and realize that, man, this might be one of the best things for me as far as resting and getting my leg right. This might be the best thing for my career here.
"It's just a minor setback for a major comeback, that's how I look at it. I don't look at it as being a downer. God put me in situations because he knows I can fight through it. He won't put me in nothing I can't bear."
Eagles coach Andy Reid anticipates his team will be challenged by Richardson.
“I don’t think there’s any secrets,” Reid said today in a conference call. “He’s a heck of a football player, so that’s what we’re expecting. You talk about a guy that was a great college player. He’s built for the NFL game, so we know with him you’ve got size and speed, toughness, quickness, and you better wrap him up and make sure that you tackle well with him.”
Richardson said he will relish the opportunity to hit again.
"I'm very anxious to take a pop and give one," Richardson said. "In my head, it's I'm going get hit or give a hit. To me, if you're a running back, you don't want to get hit too many times. You want to give that first hit. I can't wait."
Will he play?
It’s likely that cornerback Joe Haden will be allowed to play Sunday, even though he’s awaiting a decision from the NFL after appealing a suspension for a reported failed drug test. Haden practiced today, and the league usually announces suspensions by Tuesday during a game week.
But NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said if a player who's appealing a suspension practices Wednesday, it doesn't guarantee he would be permitted to play Sunday.
"Not necessarily," Aiello wrote in an e-mail response to the Beacon Journal. "There is no specific timetable requirement. Each case is unique."
Shurmur declined to answer whether Haden is going to be able to play.
“Let me just make this very strong point: That is a league issue, and if I did know anything about it, I can’t talk about it,” Shurmur said. “I’ve said that all along and so at this point, I’m not gonna comment.”
In a radio interview Tuesday, Browns President Mike Holmgren told 92.3 The Fan that Haden has already had an appeal hearing. But Shurmur wouldn’t discuss the matter.
“With all due respect, what I would say to you is if you have a follow-up question, it should be for Mike,” Shurmur said. “OK?”
Running back Chris Ogbonnaya practiced today for the first time since he injured his left ankle Aug. 20. Tight end Jordan Cameron (undisclosed) returned to action after being sidelined since Aug. 28, and starting free safety Eric Hagg practiced after being sent home Monday with a stomach flu.
Rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson (oblique), offensive linemen Oniel Cousins (right ankle) and John Greco (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral muscle; on physically unable to perform list) did not practice. They rode stationary bikes on the field.
Fourth captain set
Each week, captains Phil Dawson, D’Qwell Jackson and Joe Thomas will nominate a “game captain.” Shurmur said they picked tight end Alex Smith for Week 1.
“I think they chose wisely,” Shurmur said. “When you’re looking for players on your team, you’re looking for guys that are passionate, productive and durable and he’s been all those things. He plays on special teams. He plays on the line of scrimmage and in the backfield on offense, and he’s a tough guy. So as a coach, I’m pleased with their first selection.”