Browns running back Trent Richardson practiced today for the first time since Aug. 6, three days before he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to have a piece of loose cartilage removed.
Coach Pat Shurmur recently said he’s “very optimistic” Richardson will be able to play Sunday in the Browns’ regular-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“If he’s ready to go, he will be our starter,” Shurmur said this morning following practice.
Richardson, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, participated in team drills, Shurmur said. During the 15-minute portion of practice open to the media, he wore a black sleeve on his left knee as he took handoffs, ran routes and caught passes. He did not run full speed.
“Trent looked healthy running around today,” Shurmur said after practice. “I think each person is different when they come back from injury and you handle each injury separately, but we’ll see as we go. All along, I’ve been hopeful that he’d be [able to play in the opener].”
Before the open period of practice ended, Richardson lined up with the starting offense during team. Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson also took reps with the first-team offense. In a locker room interview after practice, Jackson said any of them could start Sunday.
Richardson did not speak to reporters today.
In addition to Richardson, cornerback Dimitri Patterson and strong safety Ray Ventrone returned to practice. Patterson had been sidelined since he injured his right ankle and knee Aug. 10 in the Browns’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions. Ventrone had been out since Aug. 19 with an injured right hamstring.
Patterson said he’s confident he’ll be able to play Sunday. Tight Benjamin Watson also said he’ll be ready to face the Eagles after missing most of training camp and all four preseason games with an injured leg muscle. Watson returned to practice Saturday.
Free safety Eric Hagg was not at practice this morning. He was sent home with a stomach flu, Shurmur said.
Running back Chris Ogbonnaya (left ankle), rookie strongside linebacker James-Michael Johnson (oblique), offensive linemen Oniel Cousins (right leg) and John Greco (undisclosed), tight end Jordan Cameron (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Phil Taylor (pectoral muscle; on physically unable to perform list) sat out, too. They rode stationary bikes on the field as practice began.
Defensive end Brian Sanford rejoined the Browns today after being signed to their eight-man practice squad. He was waived Saturday after spending all of training camp and the past two seasons with the team. The Browns cut linebacker Solomon Elimimian, who was waived by the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, to make room for Sanford on the practice squad.