Browns running back Trent Richardson revealed today that he played most of his rookie season with broken ribs and still can’t lie on his right side or his back because it’s too painful.
Richardson was hurt Oct. 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he and the Browns said he suffered a rib cartilage injury. With the season wrapped up, Richardson admitted two or three of his ribs were broken.
“Sometimes it’s hard to shift positions, twist, catch balls on my shoulder,” said Richardson, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft. “It was real tough because it limits you from a lot. You can’t really cut like you want to or you can’t really make the body movement like you want to. You can’t squeeze through the hole like you want to. You can’t really get full burst ‘cause your feet hitting the ground, it’s impacting all of that. It hurts a lot, especially when you get punched and you get hit in that side. Some guys on the ground want to do other stuff, want to come in and land on your ribs, which really hurts. It impacts a lot.”
The injury affects him off the field, too. He props himself up to sleep.
“For the first three or four weeks, I think I had people help me get dressed and help me in the shower and everything,” Richardson said. “So it was tough.”
Richardson pushed through the injury in nine games before sitting out the season finale Sunday with a left high-ankle sprain. When Richardson was in high school, he had screws inserted in both of his ankles to repair torn ligaments. Fortunately, his most recent ankle injury wasn’t as serious.
“I knew it wasn’t nothing like that,” said Richardson, who played 15 of 16 games. “It didn’t feel the same at all. You’re worth too much money in this league and they got to do extra precautions and make sure they take care of you.”
The 5-foot-9, 230-pound Richardson also played despite missing most of training camp and all four preseason games after he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Aug. 9. He said his knee didn’t give him problems during the season.
Richardson broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s franchise records for the most rushing yards (950) and rushing touchdowns (11) by a rookie, but he’s not complacent by any means. He ranked 18th in the NFL in rushing yards and 97th in yards per carry (3.6).
“I wasn’t satisfied with my season at all,” Richardson said. “Looking back at it, there was some times and positions where I couldn’t do anything, and I made something out of nothing. My offensive line they picked me up, and they got better and better as the season went on. I think we got away from the run a little bit at the end of the season, but that’s due to being behind, and that’s football. At a time like this, you got to discipline yourself to make sure that you be hard on yourself when you go back and watch film and make sure that you criticize yourself so hard to where you won’t make those mistakes next year.”
Richardson is confident he’ll be healthy in time for organized team activities in the spring. He’s convinced he’ll show significant progress in his second NFL season.
“It’s going to be a big year,” Richardson said. “It’s going to be one of the biggest years for a running back that you’ve seen around here. And I know I’m talking big, but that’s just my goals and that’s my expectations. To be a player like I am and to have [three] kids, you’ve got to understand I just had my first son, and you got to realize I’m a man that came from nothing and always trying to make something out of nothing, so I think it’s going to be big for me next year.”
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden was impressed by what Richardson was able to do despite the broken ribs.
“It’s unbelievable,” Weeden said. “Most guys would completely shut it down and say, ‘Oh, I’m getting paid.’ That’s not his thing. He’s a competitor. He knew how tough a player he was, how much he meant to this team. I applaud him. It’s amazing what he was able to do with such a beat-up body.”